Tag Archives: God

Don’t Create Grey Matter

Standard

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  I’m not the “brightest crayon in the coloring box,” if you will. Philosophy 101 pushed the limits of my intellect. Concepts like “chairness,” edged dangerously close to brain melting depth.

I prefer to explore the simpler things; ideas that maintain a very vivid black or white identity.

Grey matter never really did much but confuse and frustrate me. Not because I believe that there is no such space as a “grey area.” Rather I never understood why so much time was spent somewhere that simply had no definitive end.

Instead of focusing on  the question we can not answer, why not focus on the answers we are already have?

For the believer in Christ, we have the answer to so much of what is now debated in society, challenged by culture and being redefined by government. And while we, as Americans, are encouraged to be welcoming, tolerant, and open-minded to those who may hold different values and beliefs, it is the Evangelical Christian Church that is not welcomed, not tolerated, and declared closed-minded and thus, it’s becoming increasingly ostracized for its’ lack of grace and Christ-like love.

This is not meant to be a political post, however politics make for the best example of the point I am trying to make, which is this:

If we, evangelical Christians, bend to any form of pressure outside of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the “truth” and “answers” that have held so closely to and tried so hard to uphold will become blurred, diluted, and eventually nothing more than “grey matter” that is subject to subjective and personal interpretation and no longer considered perfect, holy, or inherent.

Perhaps maintaining the view that Biblical scripture is God breathed, inspired, perfect and infallible is not a popular opinion. So be it.

Jesus Christ was controversial. His claims were preposterous and provocative. He was thought outlandish, arrogant, intolerant and completely irrational.

Does not it sensibly follow then, that those who claim to be His followers have similar reputations?

The era for being singled out and labeled “one of them” has never been more fertile.

God help me, I choose to be among the few.

He calls to you too.

Streams in the Desert

Standard

I realize that it’s been a while since I have written an original piece, but this was too powerful to not pass on. 

They looked… and behold the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” Exodus 16:10 

Get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of the cloud and when you have found it, continue to look at it, rather than at the leaden gray in the middle.

Do not yield to discouragement no matter how sorely pressed or beset you may be. A discouraged soul is helpless. He can neither resist the wiles of the enemy himself, while in this state, nor can he prevail in prayer for others.

Flee from every symptom of this deadly foe as you would flee from a viper. And be not slow in turning your back on it, unless you want to bite the dust in bitter defeat.

Search out God’s promises and say aloud of each one: “This promise is mine.” If you still experience a feeling of doubt and discouragement, pour out your heart to God and ask Him to rebuke the adversary who is so mercilessly nagging you.

The very instant you whole-heartedly turn away from every symptom of distrust and discouragement, the blessed Holy Spirit will quicken your faith and inbreathe Divine strength into your soul.

At first you may not be conscious of this, still as you resolutely and uncompromisingly “snub” every tendency toward doubt and depression that assails you, you will soon be made aware that the powers of darkness are falling back.

Oh, if our eyes could only behold the solid phalanx of strength, of power, that is ever behind every turning away from the hosts of darkness, God-ward, what scant heed would be given to the effort of the wily foe to distress, depress, discourage us!

All the marvelous attributes of the Godhead are on the side of the weakest believer, who in the name of Christ, and in simple, childlike trust, yields himself to God and turns to Him for help and guidance. –Selected

On a day in the autumn, I saw a prairie eagle mortally wounded by a rifle shot. His eye still gleamed like a circle of light. Then he slowly turned his head, and gave one more searching and longing look at the sky. He had often swept those starry spaces with his wonderful wings. The beautiful sky was the home of his heart. It was the eagle’s domain. A thousand times he had exploited there his splendid strength. In those far away heights be had played with the lightnings, and raced with the winds, and now, so far away from home, the eagle lay dying, done to the death, because for once be forgot and flew too low. The soul is that eagle. This is not its home. It must not lose the skyward look. We must keep faith, we must keep hope, we must keep courage, we must keep Christ. We would better creep away from the battlefield at once if we are not going to be brave. There is no time for the soul to stampede. Keep the skyward look, my soul; keep the skyward look!

“Keep looking up–
The waves that roar around thy feet,
Jehovah-Jireh will defeat
When looking up.

“Keep looking up–
Though darkness seems to wrap thy soul;
The Light of Light shall fill

“Keep looking up–
When worn, distracted with the fight;
Your Captain gives you conquering might
When you look up.”

thy soul
When looking up.

We can never see the sun rise by looking into the west. –Japanese Proverb

From Streams in the Desert for April 2.

Put Down The Pen

Standard

Something has become abundantly clear to me as of late: I am not as creative as the Creator.  And what’s tragic is that I often think I am more creative than the Creator.  Take the last three years of my life as an example.

January 2008 single handedly turned my life in a direction I never anticipated. As I sat looking out the window of a 747 on a Denver tarmac, trying to stifle the panic attack I felt beginning to suffocate me, a young woman sat down in the middle seat and entertained my weak attempt at “shooting the breeze.”

When we landed in  Virginia, we had exchanged stories and email addresses.  She worked for Compassion International and by the time I made it back to my dorm room for my final semester of school, I decided I wanted to work there too.

The day before I was supposed to walk across the graduation stage, I received a phone call and an offer to be one of Compassion’s first interns. I accepted without thinking twice or asking really logical questions like “Where will I live?” “Will I be paid?” and “How do you get to Colorado Springs?”

A far cry from my original plan which included pursuing corporate America, a high-rise loft in some thriving metropolis, a diversified stock portfolio, and a lucrative marriage by the age of 30. I wanted to be some sort of business prodigy; the young-gun who had impressive insight and a jaw-dropping intuition when it came to market fluctuations and global trends.

My original plan was hardly original. That story has been written. That part has been played. A lot. 

 But perhaps my plan’s biggest pitfall was that there was only one central character: me.

I am discovering that when you hold the pen and attempt to write your own story, you forget a lot of details. You pass over people and places that may not change your destination, but bring a lot more color to your pages. You think linearly, in chronological order. You color inside the lines and try not to smudge the ink. You follow story-writing rules and include only one conflict, climax, and conclusion. Afterall, who’s got time for more adventure when you think you’re running out of pages?

But the truth of the matter is that we’re not the story-writers. We do not hold the pen. We have the privilege of playing the part we have been given.  We are beautiful illustrations; unique creations of God’s brilliant imagination.  And into each one us, His characters, He places pieces of Himself for us to show to those who read us. 

We are carriers of hope, promise, and mystery.  We are enchanting, captivating, and contagious. Not because of anything we’ve done or the story we’ve written, mind you, but because of Who’s we are and the part we play.

How do we play our part?  Be available. Be willing.

Trust the Author and Perfector of your faith to take you on a journey towards the center of His heart and in that place, you will come alive.

Put down the pen and play your part.

May Our Hearts Be Turned

Standard

I have a friend named Chip. He’s a chaplain in the Army. Over breakfast one morning he told me that one of his chief ambitions in life was to marry a woman so far out of his league that when people would see them together they would say “How in the world did he get her?”

I laughed when I initially heard of his goal. What a ridiculous thing to strive for. But about a month later, something sparked that conversation in my memory and instead of laughing, I felt an odd weight of conviction. Suddenly, I recalled times when I have seen what society would say was an “unevenly matched couple” and I would think to myself “Wow, he must have a great personality to make up for…”

It was in that moment that Lord gently, but firmly whispered,

You have the same reaction when you see an unlikely soul walk into Church on Sunday mornings.  You turn your head in astonishment as if to say that they are too much for Me to redeem. You turn your head, but not your heart. Be careful, Mere.

Have you ever noticed how beautifully terrifying a deeper relationship with Christ can be?

It is a beautiful thing to experience grace, to receive mercy; to be clothed in robes of righteousness and covered in garments of salvation.  To be declared holy, blameless, and pure.

It’s breathtaking to realize that you are loved endlessly and without cause by the very Creator of the universe. To know that you have captured the heart of a King. You have been chosen by name, set apart since the beginning of time, to be the recipient of a limitless and unfathomable love.

But in all of this undeserved glory and redemption, something becomes painstakingly clear. As we bask in the light of His grace, the veil is lifted and we can see with perfect clarity the depth and breadth of our depravity were it not for His gracious intervention.

As we draw closer to Him, growing more acquainted with his nature and seeking to harvest the fruit of His Spirit in our own lives, does it not become paralyzing obvious how unnatural His nature is in us? Is it not blindingly apparent how desperately we must depend on His grace and mercy in order that we might live as He has called us to?

In the light of His holiness, does not our sin become more evident?

If we are all honest, we would answer yes. And if we would continue to be honest, then we must ask our selves this question: If He invited and accepted me, as I am, what on earth would make me think that His grace and salvation are not enough for the next person? Who am I to say that this person’s sin outweighs the power of the Cross?

May we never forget who we were before Christ and may we always remember that His redemption is for every man.

It’s Who We Are, Not What We Do

Standard

I had a brain wave the other day.

Working in a ministry setting, you hear a lot of jargon about “doing Kingdom work.”  Whether you work in a church or for a ministry organization, the emphasis so often is on “doing God’s will,” or “fulfilling your calling,” or my personal favorite, “reaching the world for Christ.”

Let me clarify by saying that all of these motivations and missions are great. Truly. I think that they are all admirable. I have quoted all these mantras myself at one time or another. But do you see all the action words in those statements (“doing,” “fulfilling,” and “reaching,”) were dependent on the person carrying them out?  It seems as though the focal point of our personal missions and messages are… off.

My point is this: How often does our doing of ministry get in the way of us being a ministry?

I’ll use myself as an example. I work for Compassion International. We are literally acting on the mandates and commands of Christ to look after the widow and the orphan, the hungry, the poor, and the afflicted. We are doing the work of God.  And when people ask what I do and I have the privilege of telling them about our ministry, they all respond with “Wow, that must be so fulfilling/rewarding/satisfying.”

And yes, it is. Without a doubt. But my work does not satisfy me completely. What I do does not fulfill me and bring me total peace.

What does bring me joy, peace, and hope though, is remembering that I am the work of Christ.

Beth Moore spoke at Catalyst earlier this month (more posts to come on that soon) and something she said shook me to the core.

“I’m miracle material.”

And I am. Everyone is. If anyone was without Christ and has now been saved by the free gift of His grace, through faith, than we all are miracle material. For we all have been rescued from death and freely given a new and righteous life. Is that not miraculous?

We are the object of His affection and His heart’s desire? Is that not miraculous considering where we have come from, the things we have done and the people we used to be?

Perhaps this is elementary to many, but I can not get over it.

I am a miracle.

You are a miracle.

We do not have to do His work, we only have to be His work.

Scripture Came Alive

Standard

I came across a verse in Isaiah this week that I am pretty sure I have never seen before. I’m confident that it has always been there, but I don’t know that my eyes or heart have ever been open to it in the past.  It says,

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

There is a lot about this passage that I love and resonate with. For starters, the way that is begins takes my breath away– “The Lord waits to be gracious to you.” In saying that He “waits” it implies He wants to be gracious to us; to shower us with love and grace and forgiveness in order to show that He’s wants us. He’s after our heart. That’s a big statement.

But I literally say the latter part of this verse in action today and it nearly brought me to tears.

As I was out hiking (and by hiking I mean walking briskly on a sidewalk in the middle of a neighborhood in the suburbs) I saw a little boy riding a little bike, complete with training wheels, being trailed by his dad, running behind him.  They were headed right at me.

As the little boy’s legs tried to peddle the bike forward, it was obvious he was losing momentum and beginning to veer towards me. His dad, jogging behind him, placed his hand gently on his back to push him forward and kindly said, “stay right, stay right.”  I nearly stopped dead in my tracks as this verse came to mind.

 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it…”

Regardless of where I am or how fast I am not going, Christ runs behind me, helping me up the hills that are too hard when my legs grow weary and telling my in what direction to steer when my handle bar begins to wobble. And because He’s God, I think He runs ahead of me too, clearing the path He would have me take of some hazardous obstacles. Things like pot-holes where I could potentially get stuck or limbs, perhaps, that could be sharp enough to pop my tires.   All the while, He delights in me. Why? Because I am His kid. With the superman helmet and training wheels.

As this father ran behind his son, smiling, his son never looked back to make sure he was still there. He didn’t need to because he heard his dad’s voice and in knowing he was close, he peddled confidently.

God may we hear your voice. May we go where to you tell us.  And may we run hard after you.