Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Disturb us, Lord

Great poem to ponder as we enter a New Year.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

[Sir Francis Drake]

Monday, December 28, 2009

Order of Importance

I suppose reflection is a good thing. There are times that we need to step back and evaluate where we have been, and what we have accomplished. The end of a year always seems to put me in a reflective mood. The start of a new year is like a beautiful new journal with crisp blank pages poised to receive the story of our lives.
Last year went by at warp speed and it truly seems to me that it was only six months ago that I broke my ankle. In reality that happened the first week of January 2009. I'd never broken a bone, never been seriously sidelined by any health issue. It reminds me that I can plan, but not always forsee or control what comes into my life. What I can count on is a God who is so faithful and kind. What seemed bad turned into something very good in His hands. My husband was wonderful, our friends supportive and helpful. The time to "be still and know that He is God" brought forth some valuable things within and without as He worked it together for my good and His glory.
So as we sit poised to enter a new year I know that foremost in my heart and mind is to keep Him first. I want to show Him with every choice, every thought, and every action that He is the most important person in my life. With that in mind, I went back and read something I wrote eight months ago.
Why would I go to other wells when He is the fountain of Living Water. Why would I read about the vapid lives of self-seeking people when I will never be able to plumb the depths of all that He is and wants to be to me? I want to be done with lesser things and truly allow Him to be Lord of the years left to me.
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33 NASB
'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation
I asked the Lord today what He wanted to say to me and what He would want me to convey to any who would stop by my blog. The above verse from Matthew came to mind. How simple and basic. After I became a new Christian, I believe the first song I was taught came from this verse and I sang it with a fervent desire for it to be true of me and my husband. We would seek His kingdom and His righteousness. He would be first in importance to me, first in my thoughts and first in my time. I would trust Him to add to us the things He was well aware that we needed.

I have thought about this a lot throughout the day. I reflected on the way I very often get up and go check my email, peruse the headlines, and then have my quiet time. I don’t know about you, but I can get into reading and answering emails and half an hour has gone by and I don’t know how that happened. I believe His Spirit is asking, “Consistently put me first in the order of your day again.” He really does deserve that from me. We never know what a day will bring. Those precious early times before the household stirs and the phone rings, allow my spirit to be still and know that He is God. I open the door and He comes in and we dine together in His word and prayer. If something is going to be left undone, I don’t want it to be our special time together. Sometimes we get thrown a curve and we are catapulted into our day, I’m not talking about that. When we have a choice, put Him first. I can’t wait to honor Him in that way.

MY PRAYER: Lord, I hear your voice calling to me to open my heart first to you each morning. I am so sorry that I have let other things intrude. Thank you for your gracious presence in my life. Restore that first love inclination of my heart, in Jesus’ name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: I will listen for your knock; I will hear your voice and open the door to you. You promise that you will come in and that we will dine together. I stand on your Word!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Final Word

Reminded tonight of how much I love the words to Michael Card's song The Final Word. It seems to touch the deepest chord of what Christmas is truly about. His final word to us was, "Jesus, He needed no other one."

The Final Word by Michael Card

You and me we use so very many clumsy words.
The noise of what we often say is not worth being heard.
When the Father's Wisdom wanted to communicate His love,
He spoke it in one final perfect Word.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

And so the Father�s fondest thought took on flesh and bone.
He spoke the living luminous Word, at once His will was done.
And so the transformation that in man had been unheard
Took place in God the Father as He spoke that final Word.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

And so the Light became alive
And manna became Man.
Eternity stepped into time
So we could understand.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Days-Casting Crowns

Take Words and Return

As we approach this Christmas season with all the joy and celebration that it brings....can we be honest about the challenges that sometimes occur within our closest relationships? The more our hearts are invested, the greater can be the opportunity for offense. Let's be alert to be tenderhearted and quick to forgive. If we offend others, let's take words of humility and peace and try for restoration. If you will be with someone who is extremely difficult and self-centered, ask God to be a shield for you to deflect their barbs. If we run into the shelter of His love for us, we will find the acceptance and understanding that we will find no other place. May the Prince of Peace guide you in this and every season.

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips. Hosea 14:1-2 NASB

In April of this year I wrote these words from Hosea down in my journal. I was arrested by God’s desire that Israel return (which is an action) to Him with words of repentance and words of sacrifice. I am a person who typically thinks before I speak and evaluates what I read or hear. I pay attention to words as well as actions. If they had just said they were sorry and yet did not return to Him their words would have been shallow and meaninglessness. And yet God wasn’t satisfied merely with their return. He wanted words of repentance, restoration, (receive us) and the worship He was due.

The prodigal son comes to mind as a beautiful picture of what repentance looks like. Not only did he return but he took with him words, “I have sinned against heaven, and against you.” His father ran with great joy to meet him and the relationship was graciously restored.

Forgiveness can be given with or without an acknowledgement on the other person’s part, but true restoration on a human level takes work. I have wrestled with this because of a broken relationship in my life that was superficially restored. The only way I knew they were sorry was because someone else told me they regretted their actions. There were no words of repentance or request for forgiveness. We just picked up and went on. It wasn’t healthy, and the result of a superficial restoration has been a superficial relationship that lacks depth, honesty, and real intimacy.

This morning as I walked and prayed, I asked God to help me to come to Him with words of repentance, and praise. I ask Him to help me to humble myself before others and ask their forgiveness when I have acted badly or thoughtlessly. I don’t want to stroll back presuming that all is well and all is forgiven. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it. I don’t want to live on the surface with the Lord or others.

Do you need to take with you words and restore a relationship with your Father or others? Pray about it. Take action and take words.

MY PRAYER: Father, I have been the Prodigal and walked into your gracious arms. Help me not to be superficial with you or others to protect my pride. Help me to be real and biblical in my interactions with You and others. Help me to know when I need to take with me words. In Jesus’ name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: You have taken away our iniquity, You have received us graciously, we present to You the fruit of our lips. I stand on Your Word!

Friday, December 18, 2009

God With Us

I want to wish each and every person who stops by a wonderful and meaningful Christmas. I pray that the Son of God will become the One in whom you live and breathe and have your being. Matthew 1:23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

He is Immanuel, God with us. He is the "With" of God and we are never alone. Please listen to the video below and allow the wonder of it all to refresh and restore your spirit.

Mary Did You Know?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Take My Life (and let it be) Chris Tomlin

Small Acts in Big Hands

I wrote this earlier this year but think that it would be appropriate to post it again. The Christmas season is unusually ripe with opportunities to reach out with His love. Remember little is much in His hands.
Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.
Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

I have been a Christian many years and I have never really been called upon to do anything grand or heroic. I’ve tried to be faithful to who God called me to be. I have endeavored to use whatever resources or gifts that I have to serve Him. Sometimes resources were very slim, but God let me know that He can use small gestures in a big way. We have the example of the young lad who gave Jesus his lunch. Five loaves and two fish weren’t much, but when Jesus added his blessing and touch it went further than the little boy could have dreamed.

Recently, at a restaurant, a woman came to our table to let me know that my name had come up in a Bible study. The conversation involved a time I took a plate of cookies to someone who had moved to my neighborhood. The woman had expressed how much it meant to her that someone would do that. She was in a dark place in her life and God had used it to encourage her. This event had taken place twenty years before. I couldn’t believe someone would remember such a small thing that had taken place so long ago.

Engage in acts of kindness and thoughtfulness no matter how small they may seem to you. If his Spirit lives in you there is such power in simple things. Jesus said even a cup of water offered in His name would have a reward. Don’t wait for some “big” assignment. Be faithful in the little things. I am sure one day we will be amazed to find out what He did with them.

MY PRAYER: Lord, it says in your Word that You went about doing good. We are your hands and feet. Direct our path and help us to know that whatever is done in your name will bear fruit.

MY CONFESSION: I will not lose heart in doing the right thing. Your Word promises there will be a harvest. I stand on Your Word!

Monday, December 14, 2009

1 Corinthians 13 - A Christmas VersionHi

Received this in an email this morning from a good friend. I don't know who the author is, but wanted to include it.
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Glory Revealed Tour

The Word Comes in the Wilderness

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,Luke 3:2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. Luke 3:1-2 NASB

Luke gives the political and religious backdrop that surrounded the ministry of John and it was not a happy or encouraging picture. Both realms were filled with corruption and men of odious character. Nevertheless, the word of God came to John in the wilderness. That should bring us encouragement and hope in the middle of our own circumstances.

Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances….don’t despair. We cannot sit around thinking we are totally at the mercy of the times or situations we find ourselves living in. Get your eyes off the circumstances and get your eyes fixed firmly on, to quote Roy Hessions, the “Bread who is always looking for the hungry.” The word of God came to John in the wilderness and He will come to us as well.

I have found myself at times in my life making excuses for my lack of progress and growth in my faith because of my circumstances. I know now that I am as close to the Lord as I really want to be period. God makes a way for the hungry and honest heart. He always has and He always will no matter what.

If you are reading this on the internet and you aren’t really being fed in your church and don’t have a good alternative, there are wonderful sermon resources you can access. We do benefit from those who can speak deeply into our lives. Find those messages that build you up and challenge you in your faith.

Open your Bible and ask God to speak to you and teach you. Stand on His promise from Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

Bring a hunger for Him, and open your mouth wide; He will fill it.

Psalm 81:10 “I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” We stand on your word, Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holy Spirit Rain Down

Pull in the Oars, Put up the Sails

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Galations 5:16-18
I have been reading Neil Anderson's excellent book Victory Over the Darkness (Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ). I just had to share a quote that gave me a strong mental picture and encouragement for today.
  • The process of walking in accordance with your true identity in Christ is called walking in the Spirit. How do we walk in the Spirit? This is probably one of the most difficult topics to get a handle on. There's a sense of mystery here that we will probably never fully understand. The apostle John said (quoting Jesus): "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8). Trying to reduce life in the Spirit to a formula is like trying to capture the wind. Perhaps we will do best just to, as one man said, "pull in the oars and put up the sail." Instead of trying so hard to nail down all the details of the spiritual life, let's focus on trusting Christ and let Him move us along in the right direction. page 89

It may be you need a reminder like I did this morning, "Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10 I needed to stop trying to figure everything out and reduce it to a formula I can wrap my mind around. If we need wisdom He encourages us with a promise from James that He will give it. I don't know about you but I am ready to pull in the oars and put up the sail.

MY PRAYER: Come Holy Spirit and blow upon my life today. I have pulled in my oars of self-effort and raised my sail in anticipation of your leading presence. In the name above all names.

MY CONFESSION: I will stop my striving and know that you are God, You will be exalted among the nations, You will be exalted in the earth as well. I stand on Your Word!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.
Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Proverbs 25:11-12

Monday, December 7, 2009

Love Isn't Jealous and Does Not Brag

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2 Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy? Proverbs 27:4

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 1 Corinthians 13:4 NASB

Jealousy is a strong, demeaning, and powerfully destructive force. I don’t want to feel or harbor that ugly emotion in any way, shape, or form. I also want to walk in wisdom so that I do not have a hand in becoming the object of someone’s jealousy. The most vivid examples in O.T. Scriptures are Joseph with his brothers and David with Saul. In both cases the people who felt that emotion and did not deal with it, wanted to kill the object of their jealousy. In Joseph’s case two factors worked together to develop the perfect storm....his father’s partiality towards him and his own unwise sharing of his dreams. With David and Saul the people attributed greater deeds to David than Saul and Saul’s ego couldn’t deal with it. There was no excuse for Joseph’s brothers or Saul’s behavior, but wisdom sees the danger and avoids walking into a trap. I am in no way suggesting that if someone is jealous of us it is our fault. I am saying that we can walk with greater insight and discernment. In the New Testament we are told that Pilate was aware that the chief priests had delivered Jesus up to be killed because of envy. Mark 15:10 Jesus was absolutely sinless and couldn’t avoid their venom. I hope these examples will help us to consider the seriousness of this subject as either the victim or the perpetrator.

I don’t think it would come as a news flash to anyone that the body of Jesus Christ needs help in learning to walk in love. We are told in John 13:35 that we will be identified as Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that love is not jealous and love does not brag. As I have slowly and at times painfully matured in my walk with the Lord, I have learned to be very careful about what I share about “ministry opportunities.” Most of us want God to work through us and delight in sharing these opportunities with others when He does. Sometimes this is unwise and comes across as bragging. I believe we need to ask God to show us how to walk in wisdom in this. Without falling into condemnation ask Him to show you if your motivation is ever to build yourself up in eyes of others or to assure yourself of your own importance. Friends, we need to be careful and not give the enemy an opportunity.

When you find yourself reacting to anyone with feelings and thoughts of a jealous nature, turn your face up to the Father. If you can get alone, then get alone and say it out loud. “I am jealous of __________ because ________. I ask You Lord God to forgive me and according to your word cleanse me of all unrighteousness. Show me the root. Pull it up by the root Lord. I do not want to harbor this dangerous emotion.” Do this as many times and as often as necessary. Don’t let it slide. Don’t pretend it isn’t there. Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance. Pray that the person you have been jealous of will continue to grow and bear fruit for His glory. Maybe the person doesn't even know the Lord and yet they "seem" to have everything they want. Pray that they will come to know the only One who can truly satisfy.

Let’s be proactive for His sake and so "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35

Video from Matt

I became aware of and blessed by the ministry of Matt Chandler a week before the discovery of his tumor.
He has since undergone a 7 hour procedure to remove it and has responded well. The nature of the
tumor won't be available for another day or two. Please pray for him and his family. I hope this
video from Matt will be an encouragement to you. Just click on the Matt Video under my signature and you will be able to watch it.
Video from Matt

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Images Without Substance

I wrote this two years ago and thought it might be a good reminder in this season.

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:19-21 (NASB)

I was watching a television program recently that was spotlighting people who go to extremes decorating their homes for Christmas. One man had filled his lawn and adorned his roof with every conceivable plastic and inflatable Santa, snowmen, reindeer, and thousands of lights. When he was asked where he stored it all he showed them his storage shed behind his house. Oddly enough the only thing that was in the emptied out shed was Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. I’m not making this up.

I know that I am not the only one who has realized that the greatest symbols of God’s covenant love for us are always trivialized and set aside by our world system. The apostle John sheds light on this and encourages New Testament believers in the scripture shared above.

Let’s define idol:

1. an image of a deity other than God

2. a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance

3. a figment of the mind; a fantasy

The world replaces the true and profound with semblances removed of substance. We seem to prefer fantasy and figments of our imaginations to the true. Look what has happened to the rainbow. To children in our world rainbows are more associated with CareBears, leprechauns and cartoons than a covenant promise of Almighty God. Prior to the flood, "A mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground." (Gen 2:6) Often we read Scriptures and we don't allow our humanity to really interact and think about what the biblical characters were experiencing. They would not be so different from us. Think "Katrina" or tsunami for a moment. Noah's family experienced the destruction of their world on every level. The earth was no longer watered by a gentle mist. Now they would experience the gathering of ominous dark clouds, thunder, lightning, and at times torrential downpours. Can you imagine the fear, the flashbacks, and the gnawing dread they would experience if God in His mercy had not made this covenant with them and sealed it with a beautiful display above their heads? We've lost the meaning of the rainbow to leprechauns with pots of gold and glittery children's stamps. To the survivors it was a constant reminder of His holiness and His mercy.

We are in the Christmas season and the emphasis in our world is on Santa and not a Savior. Santa appears once a year, makes a list and checks it twice trying to find out who is naughty or nice. The Savior is God with us 365 days of the year. He knows we are beyond naughty and has come to save His people from their sins. Jesus is God’s indescribable Gift to us. His grace lavished on us. His life lived to show us the way and empower us to learn and to change.Then there is the cross. God's holiness and mercy displayed for all to see.

I don’t remember where I heard or read this, but the cross was not originally a symbol of Christianity, not at least for the first few centuries. They said not until all those who actually knew first hand of its barbarity and cruelty were dead did it replace the ichthus or fish that seems to have made a comeback as a car bumper sticker. There was a shop in south London which stocked crosses as a fashion item. Punk rockers, Brittney and Madonna and fashion icons have used it that way. The Evening Standard reported that one of their readers had gone into a shop to ask for one. "Sure," said the assistant, reaching for the crucifixes. "Do you want it with the little man on, or without?"

We all know what has happened to our celebration of His resurrection. The Easter bunny and his promise of sweets and dyed eggs take front and center.We can't expect those who don’t know Him to grasp the meaning and significance of God's covenant reminders to us. It is up to us not to lose the meaning of these sacred things. Beloved, guard yourselves from idols. They have no substance or power to deliver. Go tell God’s amazing story in every creative way you can think of during this and every season. Do it with joy, grace, and a heart of love for those who only know the world’s cheap substitute.

MY PRAYER: Father, we bow before You and thank You that you are a covenant-keeping God. Help us to never lose our wonder and awe when we see Your covenant reminders. Amen.

MY CONFESSION: Lord, you are the true and living God. We will guard ourselves from idols. We will worship you alone.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Read this and absolutely loved it. Pray for Matt Chandler. He is experiencing some serious health issues.


Matt ChandlerActs 29 Pastor - Dallas, Texas

It has been my experience that inspirations are brief, sporadic and rare. By inspiration I mean those moments where our souls are stimulated to a high level of feeling, thinking and doing. I love those brief, sporadic and rare moments. I am addicted to the vitality I have, the love I feel, and the clarity of thought that occurs when I am inspired. I have tried for years to pay attention to these moments, to dig into them, excavate them, and figure them out.

What is it that inspires me?
Who is it?
What stirs my affection…for my wife?
For my children? For life in general?

This to me is one of the major ideas that demand an answer. To solve this arduous riddle means more energy, richer life, deeper relationships and greater self-awareness.

Several years ago I started applying this line of thought to my relationship with Christ. Instead of asking myself what inspired me to be a good man (what’s that anyway?) I started asking what stirs my affections for Christ. What, when I’m doing it, when I’m around it or dwelling on it creates in me a greater hunger for, passion for and worship of Christ and His mission? The first list was a strange one. It looked something like this:

1. Early mornings and hot coffee
2. The writings of John Owen (at the time it was The Mortification of Sin)
3. Listening to Lauren sing
4. Walks through graveyards (I know this is weird but it reminded me of mortality)
5. The book of Hebrews
6. Robust dialogue on ecclesiology or missiology
7. Sermons by John Piper
8. Angst-filled music

I also wrestled with and paid attention to what robbed me of affection for Christ. What, when I was doing it or spending time around it created in me an unhealthy love for this world? The first list was a strange one because the majority of things that robbed me of zeal for Christ and His mission were morally neutral things. It looked something like this:

1. Watching too much TV and spending too much time online
2. Staying up late for no reason
3. Following sports too closely
4. Being physically lazy
5. Empty conversations (talking for hours about nothing)
6. Idleness

For the last few years I have updated this list often. In fact it has changed quite a bit. I want to pay attention to life. I want to be keyed in to what feeds my zeal for our great God and King and what kills that zeal. My hope is that I could flood my life with Christ-exalting, worship-creating things and avoid anything that would rob me of that.

What inspires you?

Better yet, what stirs your affections for Christ, truth and holiness? If we can fill our lives with the things that stir our affections and avoid and flee those things that rob us of inspiration, we have a better shot at dwelling deeply. What and who inspires you? Stirs you? What presses you into holy places? What robs you of joy and vitality? What robs you of your affection for Christ and holiness?

Matt Chandler's posts are re-published from his blog—Dwell Deep.

I Am Free

Wake Up, Dress Up, Rise Up!

"The chalice of My anger, You will never drink it again.And I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, 'Lie down that we may walk over you.' You have even made your back like the ground, And like the street for those who walk over it." Awake, awake, Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city. For the uncircumcised and the unclean will no more come into you. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; Loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. Isaiah 51:22b, 23-52:2 NASB

I had a painful experience as a young Christian when someone I respected expressed disappointment and doubt in the sincerity of my walk with the Lord. In retrospect I realize the person had some control issues. They had their own agenda for my life that was contrary to the direction I was sensing. I was written off and it was devastating to me. For the first time in my life I had to deal with some deep depression as their dismissive and condemning words seeped into my spirit. I had become a victim of someone’s warped outlook instead of the victor God had declared me to be through His Son. As my depression grew so did an overwhelming passivity. In Isaiah 51:23 God tells Israel that their tormentors have told them to lie down that they may walk over their backs and Israel obeyed. They made their backs a smooth road for the enemy to walk over. They were listening to and obeying their enemy and so was I.

Only God could lead a depressed person to read a book called Numbers. This is what I read, "And it will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. And behold the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.” Numbers 17:5b and Numbers 17:8b It was there through the written word and His still small voice He spoke, “Carol, your life may look like a dried up stick to yourself and others but because I have chosen you, you will bud, bloom, and bear almonds.”

Slowly but surely, hope and healing rose like a life giving sap through my wounded heart and emotions. The whispered lies that I was a failure and disappointment to my Father and Savior, and had been forsaken by His Spirit were replaced with spoken truth. I found the corresponding verse in the New Testament to further emphasize this truth. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.” John 15:16

I had read Isaiah 52 in the past but didn’t realize its significance to my life and struggles. God calls out a command to the one who is being walked on by their enemy, “Daughter, wake up, dress up, get up, and free yourself from the chains around your neck.” You have been given everything you need for life and godliness, (2 Peter 1:3) now use it.

As I gained strength I read Scripture and Scripture-filled prayers out loud every day. I put on my armor and clothed myself with the Lord Jesus Christ (my beautiful garment). I began to lift the shield of faith to quench the lies and parried with the sword of the Spirit. “I am chosen. I will bear fruit for His glory!” The dark pit of depression crumbled, the chains fell and I once again begin to walk in the light as He is in the light.

If you are in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ his word to you is that he has chosen you and appointed you to bear fruit. Realize that you have an enemy. Don’t let his lies find a place of entry. Let go of those negative words others may have spoken over you and evict them from your mind. Stop renting them space in your head. Stop the negative chatter of self-criticism. Come into agreement with the Mighty One who has chosen you.

MY PRAYER: Lord, help me to be humble and to accept wise counsel and correction. Help me to be discerning and not accept criticism that tears down and does not build up and edify. Help me by Your Spirit to recognize when my own thoughts are negative and faithless. Help me to realize when the enemy is whispering his lies to me. Help me to hold fast to who you say that I am. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

MY CONFESSION: I will wake up, stand up, and dress up. I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit and my fruit will remain. I will believe your report. I stand on your word!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

On this Thanksgiving Day, gratitude for the utter trustworthiness of a faithful Savior floods my heart with peace .Even in the midst of trials; I watch and wait in faith that my God will hear me. It doesn’t depend on my flawless performance but on His abiding faithfulness.

We are in Washington celebrating Thanksgiving with our daughter and her family. One of the things I really enjoy when we are here is going to His Place, their church in Burlington. I am always riveted by a beautiful portrait they have in their sanctuary. I ask my son-in-law to take a picture of it for me. What is so unique is the portrait of Christ on the cross is composed by the placement of individual pictures of the people in their congregation.

This sums up the bottom line of my gratitude. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. John 3:16-17

Hope you have a meaningful Thanksgiving and a heart filled with gratitude.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

That Kind of Love

As Many as Received Him

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:10-13

Do you ever feel sad and grieved for God? I had a time like that recently when taking a walk on a beautiful beach. Homes were crammed in side by side to look out on God’s amazing creation, and yet I had to wonder how many believed they were seeing the handiwork of God? Did they prefer to attribute the grandeur to a big bang or evolutionary process that would allow them to be accountable or thankful to no one? Paul describes this category in Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” The witness of the creation is ample evidence to provoke a heart hungry for the truth and will never be enough for a heart that isn’t.

To read that He came to those who were His own and they didn’t receive Him pierces to the heart. Weren’t they waiting for Messiah? Wasn’t that the promise? We know that Jesus’ own people on the whole didn’t receive Him. Even though Jesus fulfilled prophecy after prophecy it wasn’t sufficient. They hated Him because He exposed their empty religion. In John 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Supposedly they were lovers of God, but their hatred of the Son revealed their true state. John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.”
  • According to the prediction of the prophet Zechariah, one day the Jews will ask him, "What are these wounds in thy hands?" {Zech 13:6a KJV}. Then he shall answer, "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends," {Zech 13:6b KJV}. He came unto his own people and they received him not. So we are confronted right away in John's gospel with the darkness of the world, the blindness of men -- both Jew and Gentile alike -- that cannot see the Creator when he demonstrates his power in their midst, and cannot see the Messiah when he fulfills all the prophecies of the Old Testament. Ray Stedman

The sadness that these rejections bring makes the grace bestowed all the more amazing. To as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name. Receive Him; believe in His mighty saving name. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 No matter how well intentioned someone may appear when they say you can come to God by other names… they will keep you from a true encounter with the majesty and wonder of the One and Only.

It is through receiving the Son that you will become God’s child and He will become your father. No matter how old you are you need His fathering. No matter how bad or how good your earthly father is or was, you need to make the One who knows every nook and cranny of your heart and mind and soul, past, present and future your deepest fears and highest dreams your father. He is perfect in all His ways and He will teach you His ways so that you can walk in the light as He is in the light. He will give you a future and a hope. His love will never fail and He will accomplish His good purposes in your life. How can you say, “No.” to that kind of love?

MY PRAYER: There is no other name by which you are pleased to save. Let us never get over the wonder and privilege of being Your child. May all who come this way, revel in having a heavenly Father who is perfect in all His ways. Everything we need is found in you. In the name of Jesus, the One and Only, amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Joy in the Journey

Choosing the Good Part

I sometimes go back and read something I wrote and tweak or change it. When I read this one I had to smile because I have so much to do right now and frankly I needed Jesus reminder to not "be bothered by so many things," to fall fresh on me once again.
“But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42 NAS
There are times in our lives when events seem to spiral out of our ability to keep up. I experienced a time like that when we moved into our new home. We had built it ourselves to accommodate bringing my husband’s elderly parents to live with us. His father was an invalid and his mother was a semi-invalid. The weather had been atrocious and by the time we moved in our daughter’s wedding was only a month away. I had the total care of his parents during the day and since my daughter was far away in college the entire responsibility of the wedding details. I found I had no time to steal away for the Bible reading and prayer that had been the mainstay of my life. As the wedding drew near I found myself doing laundry with tears in my eyes and a deep burden on my heart. “Lord, here I am in such a critical place in my life and I have no time to spend with you in all this responsibility and activity. I feel so pulled and so lacking your peace.” I heard that still small voice that I so dearly loved saying simply, “Carol, I am bigger than your quiet time.” Suddenly I saw what had been happening to me. I had allowed myself to focus on the temporary loss of my “set apart” times with Him. A false sense of guilt had obscured the fact that I could commune with Him as I went about my day. I had a wealth of Scripture in my heart; nothing could keep me from enjoying His presence but a legalistic focus on the form. He knew at my first opportunity I would be back at His feet sitting and soaking in His presence.

That whole scenario was out of my control. Unfortunately I have scheduled myself into similar spots since then. During those times I’ve heard His gentle rebuke from Luke 10:41-42, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." At heart I am a Mary, but residing in the same house is a Martha who has to be reminded to let go of the unnecessary and choose the good part.

I invite you to do a heart check. Who is in control in your life? Is it Mary or Martha? If your circumstances are truly out of your control the last thing I want to do is put guilt on you. But please be honest…have you taken on more than you should and is it crowding out the good part? Ask the Lord to show you what to let go of. He will. He misses you.
MY PRAYER: Lord, thank you that we can abide in you as we go about fulfilling our responsibilities. Father help us not to allow busyness to crowd out that special time when it is just the two of us.
MY CONFESSION: Even though Jesus was the Son of God He would rise early to meet with His Father alone to listen and pray. Lord, I will follow your example.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Eyes of the Lord

"Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:8-9b

I am always struck by the balance in the word of God between faith and works. To paraphrase what God said in 2 Chronicles, "Because you relied on Me, I delivered them into your hand." It was a battle where the odds were stacked against them. Look at the adjectives used to describe what was before them: immense, very many chariots and horsemen, no problem for a God who is just looking for someone He can strongly support. Unfortunately this falls in context of God telling them that in their current endeavor they would fail because they had reached out instinctively to others for help. The arm of flesh will fail them. God may direct you to any number of resources or give you specific directions however, He asks that you give Him that privilege.

I had a friend who was young in the Lord and growing fast. She had a tendency when faced with a dilemma to call someone she respected for sympathy/empathy or advice. One day when confronted with a situation she heard the Lord’s still, small voice saying, “You can take it to the phone or you can bring it to My throne.” That was a turning point for her. The Lord was training her to make her first instinct to turn to Him.

We know from Proverbs 11:14 that in a multitude of counselors there is safety. God never encourages us to be lone rangers who won’t accept or seek advice from those who are godly and mature. He simply want us to “In all our ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct our path.” Proverbs 3:6

Stay connected to His heart and His life. Seek first His kingdom and ask for the grace to desire to know and obey His will.

MY PRAYER: I ask that you fix your eyes on me Lord, as I fix my heart on you. Help me not to look at the enemies and obstacles in my life but rely on You who are mighty to save and deliver. Lord, I ask that you root out everything in my life that would keep my heart from being completely Yours. I want to know You and in Your grace, know Your strong support. Thank You Lord for rewarding those who seek You. In Jesus’ name.

MY CONFESSION: My heart is completely Yours. My focus is in the right place. No matter what is coming against me, the God of heaven is my strong support. Whom shall I fear? You will deliver me from every enemy. I stand on Your Word.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Esther, The Whole Megillah

Just finishing up leading Beth Moore's Esther study tonight. I decided to review the whole study for the women and ending up writing it in poem form. Not great art...just great fun for me and hopefully a walk down memory lane for my fellow study mates. Here it is, don't cringe just go with it.

The story of Esther begins with a mess
A queen shuns her king in front of his guests.
He sends her away but to his great dismay
He begins to remember they had some good days.

His closest companions see his deep melancholy
put their heads together and came up with this folly.
We'll hold a contest throughout this great land
and base it on looks…could even God use this plan?

The one chosen queen is of God’s ancient seed
Mordecai stands unbending reed.
Haman likes people to bow and to scrape
but he finds that this Jew he can’t intimidate.

He delivers a plan that Xerxes approved
A time is set for Jews to be removed.
We learn there is a history behind this meanness
an ancient feud fuels this evil genius.

Mourning and terror grip the land
Mordecai steps forward to urge a plan
upon the queen who is uncertain of favor
who sees herself as an unlikely savior.

With fear and trembling fasting and prayer
Esther steps forward to see does he care?
She is resigned that one way or another
this is the pathway there is no other.

In the midst of the Jew’s desperate pleading
a king cannot sleep, he needs some dull reading.
He soon learns he’s an ungrateful lout
and sends out a call for who is walking about.

Haman’s hatred is boiling and building
a scaffold to impale a man who needs killing.
Instead he describes for the king the high honor
he wants for himself, but gets nothing but horror.

Parading through town surely he’s dreaming
Praising a Jew what could be more demeaning?
The handwriting is beginning to show on the wall
It seems that this Haman is starting to fall.

Three are sitting at a table or is there four
Is this human wrestling or is there more?
Esther appeals as Haman unravels
to his own scaffold he soon will travel.

Another edict is put into place
It flies through the land at a quickening pace.
Stand up and defend your home and your kin
If you need more days then the time we’ll extend.

So here we are at the end of this trail
King Xerxes, Queen Esther and Mordecai’s tale.
For those who have hearts taught by this story
The real King’s unveiled and reigning in glory.
It has been a wonderful study. Much better than this poem. If you get a chance to take it..I highly recommend it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Before the Throne of God

Lavished By Grace

I have posted this before but I need a daily reminder to live lavished and I believe you do too.
Living Lavished

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. Ephesians 1:7-8a NASV

When I read in the beginning chapters of Genesis, I am always gripped by the utter tragedy of the fall. How little do we comprehend the consequences of our choices whether for good or evil. I was once told that Satan will always tell us what it will cost to obey, but never the awful cost of disobedience. I was struck with the word in Genesis 3:24 that God drove Adam out of the garden. Then in Genesis.4:14 Cain uses the same word to say, "You have driven me from the face of the ground and from your face." Were more chilling and despairing words ever spoken? These words when pondered make me grasp the essence of hell itself. Not until Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" does anything come as close. And with that, the Son of God, the last Adam, laid down His life to lift us from the fall. I bow in gratitude that the wrenching despair of Cain will never be mine even though deserved. I am including a video to a song that was written in 1863 by a woman named Charite Bancroft. I have listened to this song in so many times I'm surprised the CD will still play. Just hearing the words helps us to understand what Paul meant in Ephesians 1:7 "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us." Don't allow the enemy of your soul convince you that something done in the past disqualifies you from enjoying Him in the present. Isaiah shows the way back home to living before His face: Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon." Determine to live your life, day by day, with the knowledge that you have been lavished by grace and abundantly pardoned.

MY PRAYER: Lord, you are my pure and perfect plea and I come to your throne of grace to receive the help I need. I come dressed in your righteousness alone and therefore I can come boldly and gratefully.

MY CONFESSION: Lord, I have redemption through your blood, you have forgiven my trespasses and lavished me with your grace. I love you and I stand on your word.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Joy in the Journey

Becoming a Second Miler

"And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:41 NKJV

Jesus is speaking to his disciples about the Roman practice of commandeering civilians or their property (horses, oxen, camels, carts, etc.) to carry the luggage or equipment of military personnel for, in this case, one mile. Can you imagine how the Jews would chafe under a Roman soldier compelling them to such an inconvenience? I have to ask myself what would have been my attitude? I think I know. But Jesus………………..turns it all around. He tells us to totally change our attitude and go an extra mile. Can you imagine the impact such an attitude would have on the one use to being met with grim faced grudging compliance?

How many times do we forfeit a great opportunity to be a second miler? It is all about attitude and having no greater aim than to make our Jesus known. I don’t know what that would look like in your life or mine. It may be to allow that person behind you in the long pharmacy line who doesn’t look well to move ahead of you. It may be how you respond to a demanding spouse or employer. I don’t know. I do know the One who does know. What if we did something dangerous and asked Him what it would actually look like in our lives? What if we invited Him in to highlight the opportunities we have to become second milers? Are we willing? I would think there is an adventure in store for any who will ask in faith believing and then walk with Him to carry out what He shows us.

My Prayer: Lord, your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts. We invite your presence through your Spirit to highlight our opportunities to go the second mile with those who need to see you. Teach us your ways for your glory. In Jesus’ name amen.

My Confession: Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth; and will glorify Thy name forever. I stand on your Word! Psalm 86:11a, 12b

Run For Your Life

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Find Your Wings Mark Harris

Giving Children An Advantage

The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage. Proverbs 21:5a
And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 NASV

I have mentioned before in one of my devotionals that I came to the Lord with very few good habits or character qualities. I was the youngest of 3 girls and for some reason my mom didn’t instill in me very much responsibility or life skills. My older sisters were left to take up the slack. I didn’t do things like make up my bed or clean up after myself by hanging clothes etc. Guess what? Those habits didn’t magically appear once I was saved. Every bit of discipline and good life management skills that I have came in a long and slow process. To grow up with good habits and life skills coupled with spiritual wisdom is a huge advantage.

I don’t care how smart or gifted or spiritual you may be I don’t think we can underestimate the value of good habits. So, I am writing this to encourage anyone who has a hand in raising children to model and lovingly help them to develop good habits. Children are sponges and they are soaking up the character, habits, and life skills displayed in your home. My challenge to you is to realize that you will never have a greater opportunity to impact lives and shape character more than your children, or if you are fortunate to have them near, your grandchildren. They are watching and absorbing their habits and life skills from you. They are learning many lessons whether you are aware of it or not.

  • They will learn teamwork or the lack of it by observing how their parents work together and with others.
  • They are learning stewardship by the way you take care of your house, yard, car, clothes, shoes, etc.
  • They are either learning to do things when they feel like it or the discipline of doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. They are learning to be either diligent or procrastinators.
  • They are learning to take care of their bodies with good eating and health habits or they are going to learn self-indulgence and disregard of the consequences.
  • They are learning how to handle money wisely or foolishly.
  • They are learning to put God first in everything or keep Him on the periphery of their lives. Does any little distraction keep you out of church or are you faithful?
  • They are learning genuineness or hypocrisy by whether both your public and private behavior is consistent.

    I am not talking perfection. Neither God nor children expect us to be. No one gets it totally right. But we should be prayerful that we wisely use the opportunity of a lifetime to make an imprint on young and impressionable lives.

    MY PRAYER: Father, we need your wisdom and your power to model wise behavior and habits for the children in our lives. All your habits were good and we want to be like you. Help us to instill love for you and diligence in our children. In the name above all names, amen.

    MY CONFESSION: Lord you say in Proverbs that the hand of the diligent will rule. You also tell us if we lack wisdom all we have to do is ask and believe and you will give it. We receive the wisdom we need to influence our children from you. We stand on your Word!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

All the My Savior Leads Me

Clinging or Captive?

'For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,' declares the LORD, 'that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they did not listen.' Jeremiah 13:11

But if you will not listen to it, my soul will sob in secret for such pride; And my eyes will bitterly weep And flow down with tears, Because the flock of the LORD has been taken captive. Jeremiah 13:17

Like loving mentors, prophets in the Old Testament were sent to speak to Israel over and over to turn them away from their bad choices to the way of life and blessing. Their goal was to relentlessly call the people back to total dependence on their God. The outcome would be a people intimately acquainted with and dependent on their God. They would then fulfill their purpose and be for Him a people for renown, praise, and glory. Sad, sad words follow….but they did not listen.

In verse 17 Jeremiah brokenly tells what motivated such a lapse. It was their own pride that led them away captive. He took no pleasure in their captivity. He sobbed in secret that something so unnecessary and avoidable should befall God’s people. As I recently asked my husband, “Who wants a ministry of I told you so?”

What is the lesson in such a heartbreaking scenario from God’s ancient people for us? Jesus clearly tells us that “apart from Him we can do nothing.” John 15:5 Yet how many days have I hurried off into my day not seeking His plans for my day and His power to walk in the Spirit? What begins as a few days of drift can carry us far away to places we never wanted to be.

This past year someone asked me to mentor them. We met, we talked, and I listened, prayed, and encouraged. Then I saw her making some really unwise choices. When I realized that I had to love her enough to confront I was met with a haughty, “I listen to God and He will lead me.” I asked her to please consider that my concerns might be a part of His leading. Her pride in her own ability to make the right choice caused her to shut out not only me, but others who were also concerned. She is being led away captive and daily I pray for God’s mercy over her. It is so unnecessary and so sad.

Hebrews 13:17 Tells us to “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” This seems all but lost among God’s people today. We must get back to walking humbly before God and each other. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. 1 Peter 5:5

Let’s allow God to search our hearts. Are we walking dependently with Him and open to the counsel of those around us? Do not allow unchecked pride to lead you away into captivity.

MY PRAYER: Lord, root out by Your precious Spirit any notion that I can make it on my own. Help me to cling to you and clothe myself in humility toward my brothers and sisters.

MY CONFESSION: I will clothe myself with humility toward You and others. You give grace to the humble. I stand on Your Word!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rich Mullins on God's Love

God Lives Under the Bed

My son had the privilege of going to church and school with a young man a lot like Kevin. One day he came home and said, "Mom, I promise you, David is the happiest kid at our high school." I totally believed him. David had been spared a lot of the angst of the turbulent teenage years. I am not naive or trying to romanticise the challenges that have to be dealt with when you are mentally handicapped. However, I have seen the sweetness and the wonder that comes when the Lord is in the heart by faith. The email I am including below has made the rounds before, but is definitely worth the read.

I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night.

He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed...'

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor.. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult.

He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life?

Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.

The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work.

He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays - oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go! ' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.

His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.

And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.

He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.

His life is simple.

He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.

He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure.

He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue.

Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God..

Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith.

It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.

It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.

Kevin won't be surprised at all!

Friday, October 23, 2009

How Can I Keep From Singing

The Confidence We Need

And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it shall happen. "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive." Matthew 21:21-22

I heard an interesting teaching this morning on Matthew 21:21. I did what God says and searched the Scriptures to, “See whether these things be so.” Acts 17:11 The pastor teaching on the above Scripture mentioned that the word doubt in the Greek is diakrinō. The root word krino means to try, condemn, or punish. His point was that many prayers are not answered because we have hearts that condemn us in some way and that hinders our faith. I can identify with knowing that God Can do this or that, but doubting whether He will do it for me. I am in a sense punishing myself with doubt because I know I have failed in the past and will fail again in the future. I am judging on the basis of my worthiness. I am focusing on who I am in the flesh instead of who I am in Him. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 I have confessed my sin and forsaken it, and yet I have failed to embrace the incredible truth, “There is therefore now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

As I looked further at the word I found that diakrino is used when the Lord speaks t
o Peter in a vision in Acts 10:19. A sheet is lowered with unclean animals on it and Peter hears a voice saying, “Rise and eat.” Peter still keeping the Jewish dietary law refuses saying that he has never eaten anything unclean. On the 3rd time the sheet is lowered he hears the Lord declare, “What God has cleansed, no longer call unholy.” While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are seeking you. "Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them."Acts 10:19-20 That same word diakrino is used in these verses as well. Peter needed to step fully into God’s grace minus any condemnation to embrace the awesome work God was going to accomplish through him. So do we.

We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.. 1 John 3:19 -22 There we go…….the tie in with Matthew 21:21. The confidence in prayer that we need comes from a revelation that God is greater than our own hearts and consciences.

"In whatever our heart condemns us; God is greater than our heart and knows all things." What is that? That deserves a huge wow. That is a great, great statement. A conscience focused on our failures smites us with the axe-blows of guilt and hacks away at the tree of assurance. And how do we react? We say, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, there's something greater than my conscience, there's a higher court than my conscience, there's a higher standard than my heart, God is greater than my heart and God knows all things. God is far greater in holy indignation. God hates sin more than my conscience and my heart hate it and God knows more than even my heart knows. That is to say God has a higher standard of holiness than I do. God has a greater hatred of sin than I do. And God knows everything about me far more than even I do. And the Bible says,
Romans 8:1, 'There is therefore now no...what?...condemnation to those who are in Christ.'" So where do you go when your conscience is accusing you? You go back to the position of gratitude for the grace of God. God knows more about your sin than you do, God has a higher standard than you do. And God has pronounced you justified. He knows your heart better than you know it. That's what He said to Peter, elicited from Peter. "Do you love Me? Yes I love You. Do you love Me? Yes I love You. Do you really love Me? You know my heart, you know everything, you know I love You. I haven't acted like it, I haven't conducted myself as I should, but look at my heart, You know there are holy affections there." And the response of our Lord was, "Feed My lambs, feed My sheep, feed My sheep." John MacArthur from sermon on 1 John.

Peter needed more than once to be reminded of the riches of His grace toward us and so do we, so do we. Don’t allow doubt that flows from self-condemnation hinder your prayers and ministry any longer. What God has cleansed, don't you dare call it unholy.

MY PRAYER: Lord, I thank you that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Lord, I welcome conviction and refuse condemnation. You are greater than my heart and I embrace my place in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: What God has cleansed I will no longer call unholy. I stand on your Word!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Update From Philippines

Received this a few minutes ago. An update from my nephew who is a missionary to the Philippines. Please pray for them, Kordong, and for the people trying to recover from the last typhoon.

Dear Friends,

We are now in the city helping with one of our Youth Center teenagers who was the victim of a stabbing. He is from the same family that was flooded out of their home last week and living at our Dakuton Base. He is in the hospital but in stable condition. Please pray for Kordong as he recovers.

The typhoon we asked you to pray about has been quite a story. It was headed right towards the Philippines and had intensified into a category 5 storm. In comparison, Hurricane Katrina was a category 3. People here were in despair as they watched this new storm develop. Many of the dead from the last two storms still remain unburied and over 1 million people have been displaced. The president here called for a day of prayer,” that God would protect the Philippines.” Pastors in Manila were reporting that their churches were packed with people. Amazingly, the massive storm (600 miles wide) began going in small circles and then took an s-shaped course. It also weakened into a category 3 storm. It was supposed to make landfall last Monday, but yesterday was still about 500 miles away. It is also veering much farther to the North of us.

We were set to cancel a camp that was originally planned for October 23rd, but the group begged us to allow them to come as scheduled. Imagine, on the highway side of our camp, we can see Red Cross and military vehicles going to stricken areas; on the ocean side, we can see huge, U.S. Marine helicopters (700 marines are in The Philippines helping with the relief effort) ferrying in supplies; the ocean is eerily still and quiet (the calm before the storm) and 150 people want to do a camp! We told them that they could come but needed to be prepared to leave in a hurry.

Thank-you so much for your prayers. Many have said,” they were not able to open the attachment we sent along with our newsletter. “ If you want to see a good, up-to-date Satellite picture of the typhoon, go to: Our island is the long, thin one, closest to Viet Nam.