December 6, 2011

next thing.

"Jesus guides us in many different ways. Sometimes he makes the next step clear as day. Other times, like Peter discovered in JOHN 21:1-14, it feels like we’re left to muddle through, only to find that Jesus was leading through our muddling.

“I am going fishing.”

Peter didn’t know what else to do. The past few weeks had been indescribably intense with the nightmare of Jesus’ crucifixion and the ineffable wonder of his resurrection.

Now he was sitting with Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two others. They were just waiting. It was disorienting. Jesus wasn’t there and he hadn’t told them what to do next.

Peter used to know just what to do: prepare the nets and boat, go fishing, take what he caught and sell it in the market. Fishing was hard and sometimes dangerous work. But Peter knew what was expected of him. The memory of the familiar was comforting.

So as long as he didn’t know what else to do, he figured he might as well do something productive. The others replied, “We will go with you.” Peter wasn’t the only restless one.

All night they fished. Cast and pull. Nothing. Cast and pull. Nothing. Try the other side of the boat. Nothing. Move the boat. Nothing. A little deeper. Nothing. A little shallower. Nothing. Where are the fish? Nothing. Whose idea was this? There may have been a sharp word or two.

Just as day was breaking, they heard a voice from the shore. “Children, do you have any fish?” James’ exasperated response was, “No!” “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

Ordinarily this would have been irritating. But these instructions were familiar. This had happened before. Peter and John glanced at one another and then tossed the net. The sudden weight almost pulled them overboard. It couldn’t be! It was! Fish! And they were huge! They couldn’t even get the net into the boat.

John’s eyes were as big as the fish when he looked at Peter and said, “It is the Lord!” Peter handed the net to Nathanael, threw on his outer garment and dove into the sea, leaving the others to drag the bulging net.

When they got to shore, they found Jesus preparing breakfast for them. He already had fish! Graciously, and perhaps with a tease of affection, he said, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” Then he served them breakfast.

And then Jesus gave Peter the next instructions.

Four Principles in This Story

This is vintage Jesus, always graciously leading and serving his bewildered disciples. And since we 21st century disciples are just as easily bewildered, it’s good for us to remember some helpful principles from this story.

First, waiting on Jesus is a common experience for disciples. Sometimes we wait for direction. Sometimes we’re stuck in a very hard place waiting for release. Sometimes we wait to understand his purposes. Sometimes we wait for his provision. Jesus’ timing and purposes are not always clear to us, though they are always best for us. So he wants our faith resting on the rock of his Word and not on the sand of circumstance.

Second, when we’re not sure what to do next, as Elizabeth Elliott says, “do the next thing.” I’m sure the disciples had prayed for guidance during those days but no clear instructions had come. Fishing just seemed like a good idea. As it turned out, it was exactly what the Lord wanted them to do. Jesus was leading them, just differently. As they did the next thing Jesus met them and directed them.

Third, Jesus is in complete control. Peter and his friends were experienced fishermen. They did their best, yet caught nothing. But that morning they discovered (again) that Jesus was sovereign over their decisions, the boat, the sea, the fish, and time.

Fourth, Jesus’ is always serving us, even when we can’t see it. He serves us in every conceivable way: from the payment of our sins, to our call, to the fish we catch, to a breakfast on the beach, to our eternal home. Jesus loves to work for those who wait for him (ISAIAH 64:4).

In following Jesus there are seasons of bewildering intensity and seasons of bewildering waiting. He does not want us to panic during either. He is in control of both. When you don’t understand his ways, trust his Word." - John Bloom


1. Waiting on Jesus is expected
2. When we're not sure what to do next, do the next thing.
3. Jesus is in complete control
4. Jesus is always serving us.  

Whatever your situation, whatever your uncertainty, the gospel applies.

Father I'm so, so, so, overwhelmed by the comfort I find in your word. It's full of truth and dripping with promise. Your promises were true then and they will prove true now. There are a lot of things around me that I would love to adjust , fix or just reschedule. I'm being tempted to look at things and say, Lord are you sure you know what you're doing?  But all I have to do is look in your word and I see that you are indeed completely in control and you are looking out for your kids. Father,   I don't have a roadmap for this week or a action plan for next week but I don't need to. That's a blessing.

Thank you for John Piper, thank you for his ministry and the hundreds of thousands of people his resources are reaching. Thank you for using him to so often point me back to you. I pray that you give him many, many more years to proclaim your glorious gospel.

 In your name, Amen.

December 2, 2011

A prayer for Hark! Market



Father this is just a silly little craft fair. It will just be a room full of crafty christmas decorations without you. Our goal from the start of planning this two day Christmas Extravaganza was to fling open the front doors of our church and welcome the community in. This is a time of year when people are softer to the church. I don't want them to come to Hark! and be smacked with religion, no ones handing out tracks or wearing turn or burn t-shirts. Father we want to be real with people, we want to welcome the community into the community of You. 

Father I want to pray big prayers for Hark! I pray that you will warm peoples hearts and that you will draw them to you. I pray you would spark something in them tonight or tomorrow that would lead them to you. Father help our volunteers as they come to selflessly serve their faces off the next two days. I pray that you would give them the words to say and the clear direction of how to care for these people. 

And lastly Father I pray for Gabrielle and myself.  Creating a last minute game plan last night we were filled with a peace about Hark! neither of us are stressed or overwhelmed, and that is only becauase of you. We took a couple minutes to pray before we called it a night last night and I was filled with faith about what you can do. Use us, use Crossway for the spreading of your glorious gospel for your glory. I pray for a continuous strength and energy for the Hark! team. Thank you for how you've poured out your grace on this event so far. I'm excited to see what you will do. 

November 29, 2011

dehydrated.




It's been a couple days since I've had the chance to write. I was in Portland for the weekend for a friends wedding. I haven't been sleeping very well, so I thought in order to spare any readers from the horror of sleepless Als I should avoid writing. But I'm back in the swing of real life and here is my attempt at jumping back into writing. If I'm being honestly haven't been reading the Word as much as I need to be. No sermons, no blog posts. I've been running on Als fuel. Its running low. I'm feeling a little dry. So I'm just going to pray...

Father, this morning the reality is that for the past week it's been a struggle to read your word. I read it but it's just like I'm reading the newspaper, or even worse, a really old, familiar, story. It's not effecting my heart. Nothings changed, you are still faithful, I'm still a sinner that needed a Savior. Your gospel remains glorious, but my heart has grown distant. I'm sitting here whining about my thirst, all the while sitting next to the fountain of life. It is encouraging to see growth in this area...a few months ago this would have taken so much longer to get here. I would have been wandering the Sahara, collapsing in a heap before I would think... 'Hmmm what's wrong here'. So Father, first of all, thank you for making me aware of my thirst, that is a sign in itself that you are warming my heart. Thank you for sending your son to die for my sin so that I never have to be thirsty again. Rejoice my soul, rejoice. 

Looking at things this morning my hearts desire is for change. I don't exactly know what that looks like. I think it practically means, listening to a sermon in the car on the way to work, or reading Spurgeon alongside your Word... Something that puts glorious old truths in new light. It means praying my face off, praying for the little things and the big things, and acknowledging my need for you in every aspect of my life. I think it practically means slowing down, saying no, taking time. I'm learning that if I'm not putting anything in, I don't have anything left to give. How can I encourage a friend who's battling depression when I want to put my head through a wall? How do I make a meal for someone when I forget to eat lunch? How can I care for someone's soul when my own is being neglected? Father you want my soul. If I bring that to you, thirsty, you are faithful to quench it and care for it. Then you'll show me where I need to go from there. I may not be doing everything, but thankfully you still are. 

Amen. 

November 23, 2011

transparent?




I was talking with a friend on Tuesday night and the topic of transparency came up. Why is transparency missing in our local churches? Why is it being replaced in our relationships? Why is it so hard to be transparent? 

Jesus was transparent, although without sin,  He was controversial to say the least, and hated by many. Jesus walked into a room and everyone started whispering, making those awkwardly, long, purposeful stares, turning  those judgmental, cold, shoulders. Then there was the verbal attack from the Pharisees, Jesus couldn't get a break! Why did He stir up so much drama? What was it about this man that rubbed some people the wrong way but drew so many others towards Him? He was transparent. The marginalized found comfort in His openness, they found a place they could rest and not be judged. They found a friend who spoke messages of salvation and hope and they found a  Savior who could redeem them from their sin. Jesus broke down  social barricades and invited the poor, the sick, the condemned to come eat with Him.  In the scriptures we see Jesus tip tables in the temple, weep over the death of His friend, heal people, enjoy good food, fellowship with friends. He was transparent, with Jesus what you see is what you get. 

Funny thing is that it was outrageous then and it's outrageous now. We live in  the the world of "Be Who You Are" or "Be Unique". But we're still being told to "Be" something. If you survive High School without going through a major identity crisis, you'll most likely get sucked into the university vortex of self help books or drowned in a sea of psychology classes. Then you go home and are Calvin and Hobbes attacked by your alter-ego, Internet self, who is looking less, and less like you everyday. We live in a world obsessed with image. We'll put on anything, except transparency. Why? 

Father, I'm proud, I don't like seeing my sin and I certainly don't want others to see it. I'm too busy primping and priming my sin to look acceptable to those people around me that I'm robbing myself of Your grace. I'm asking You, the master surgeon, to put a bandaid on a fatal wound, claiming to know what's best and not looking to the future I say, "You can stitch it up later doc, all I need is a good old bandaid." 

Father sometimes it's awkward to be transparent, actually I take that back... It's always awkward.  It's difficult to peel off that cheesy smile of, "I'm fine thanks! How are you?". I have to be ready to get real with people, and be ready to receive transparency as well. Real relationships are messy and its almost always easier to have fake ones. But Lord, make me more like you, mold me more like Jesus. Make me transparent  so that Your grace may abound in my life and I can grow in community and love of You. Break down the walls of insecurities and lies this worlds been building in my  heart.

"Take my life and let it be, always only, all for thee."

Take my life and make me transparent, like Jesus. 

Amen 

November 22, 2011

marginalized.




[Involvement with people, especially the marginalized, begins with a profound grasp of God's grace. Often our instincts are to keep our distance. But the Son of God ate with them. He's not embarrassed by them. He lets them kiss his feet . He's the friend of the riffraff, traitors, the unrespectable, drunks, druggies, prostitutes, the mentally ill , the broken, and the needy- people who lives are a mess.] -Tim Chester

Oh Father forgive me for forgetting your grace! Forgive me for viewing  people as unworthy projects! You ate meals with them, lived with them, walked life with them, loved them. Jesus soften my heart to see the need that's right in front of my face. Warm my heart, tune it to sing your grace, so that you might be praised. I don't tend to like people, I make snap judgements and move on when things get difficult. I prefer to surround myself with people I like and all together avoid ones I don't enjoy. Lord, who am I to decide who fills your church?  Forgive me.

I don't want more stories of change because of people following programs or the "church fixes everything"  bandaid mentality.  I don't want to listen to any holy water scams. But Lord I do want genuine change, full repentance and changed hearts. I want tears and rejoicing, real pain and real worship, by restored, refreshed people.  I want cold hearts sparked by the warmth and welcome of your gospel. I want drug addicted bodies to find comfort in God's word. I want the isolated, single, mom to find support and refuge in the care and community of a church family. Lord help me to slow down, to unclutter my life so that I have time to pray, and reach out to the people around me. Somehow use my failed attempts at care for your Glory and continue to teach me what it means to love like you. Because Jesus when I step back not very far, my life was a mess, and it's only through you that I've been redeemed. What a message of hope. Thank you for how your Gospel demolishes every kind of social, racial, global, and language barrier. You are a Holy, loving God who died for broken, filthy, marginalized people, you get the glory. 

[For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.] Romans 5

November 21, 2011

tall in a grande with extra foam.



First morning ever that I hit snooze 5 times.
First morning in a week that I didn't have to scrape ice of my car.
First morning in a long time I pulled the old, tall in a grande "with extra foam" scam.
First morning in a long time I laid my anxieties at Jesus feet and walked away.

[Why are some Christians so anxious, so fearful? Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord. They took it to him, but brought it away with them again.] Charles Cowman

Oh Father! Why am I so anxious? Why am I so fearful? This hits so close to home. I am growing more aware of my need to come to the Cross quicker, understanding the need to go back to that place and remember. I'm learning the weight of sin and the separation it wedges between things I truly love. 

I can't express the feeling of freedom and joy that I receive when I take my burdens to the cross. But Lord I need you to teach me how to take them to you and leave them there. To take them off me and submit them to your will. My shoulders aren't broad enough, you didn't design me to carry this weight.  You are walking beside me willing to take it. You sent your Son to die so that I don't have to carry it anymore. As I get up from the cross and turn around I'm struggling, crying, buckling under the weight of these things and you're walking down the hill of Calvary beside me pleading with me to just let go of it. I'm unable to come to the table and feast with my King, I'm robbing myself of your invitation to rest. Christ's invitation is sweet, but these burdens, this weight, seems too much. 

Father this morning my heart is joyful because this is not the end of the story! My burdens can be removed by Christ. Through Jesus they already have been. Direct my eyes to your glory, use your word to point me to your faithfulness, help me rest in who you are and walk up with me to the cross, help me take off these burdens and place them where Jesus died a substitutionary death. Then walk with me up to the table so I can be free to rest and worship my Savior. 

November 18, 2011

grab a kleenex and let it snow




It snowed last night, and I cried, a lot, not because of the snow, but because of what the snow reminded me of. 

Yesterday was one of those days. One of those ones when you stare at the clock and actually watch the seconds pass. Easy things were difficult, difficult things were difficult. I was tempted to despair and in the drama of the day I was praying for sustaining grace. I was driving home feeling very discouraged and a little bit like I got kicked in the face. I was driving home on the highway when it happened, it started to snow, big, chunky, pure white flakes. In minutes  the evergreens where white and I was crying. 

This scripture has been weighing heavy on my soul lately...

[Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.] 2 Cor 12

Yesterday was the Lord saying, 'Let me show you how weak you really are. Let me reveal your lack of boasting in me.' The Lord used the snow yesterday to say, 'Look at my power, look at how it's made perfect in your weakness. Boast in it Als, enjoy the beauty of my sustaining grace. Just like the snow I make all things new. I cover over your weakness. I'm enough for you.'  

Father help me gladly boast in my weakness. It frees me from condemnation and paves the way for me to understanding your love more clearly. Lord I am weak and I wander from the truth of your gospel. Bind me to your cross so that I may find life. Guard my heart and mind. Your grace is all the sustaining I need, but oh how I need it! Show me your faithfulness and your perfect power today. 

November 16, 2011

Wednesday morning...(afternoon?) grace.



My body needs to be told I'm on West Coast time now. It missed the memo, it still wants to wake up at 5:00 and go to bed at 7:30. This is not conducive to real life. But while I was still on East coast time I heard a killer sermon on Luke 11.

[Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.]

I often read this from the perspective that the disciples were trying to figure out a easy solution to prayer. Like they were looking for some kind of "Pray like Jesus in 30 days or your money back!" scheme. But this week I've been freshly reminded of my need for prayer. I know how to talk, I know how to form words together to communicate with my Father but it's like I forget the gospel in my prayers. They become incredibly focused on myself and I loose sight of who I'm praying to. They become a continuation of my whining and complaining. I pray without looking up, I don't have faith or hope for the future and I am certainly not trusting my gracious Father for sustaining grace. They are just words that have been completely removed from my heart. 

[And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything'?I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!]

God is not the nasty neighbor in this story. He used the neighbor as a illustration to say if this miserable, sinful, man will give his neighbor good things, how much MORE will Christ? What grabs me in this story is the mans persistence, he needs it, he's desperate for it and he's not going to stop banging on that front door. He's not shameful or shy, he is aware of his need and he asks for it. 

Father forgive me for loosing that desperation in my prayer. Forgive me for marching to you and stamping my foot and demanding things. Forgive me for assuming I know the outcome,  and not seeing my need to pray. Forgive me for doubting your faithful character and your abundant love. Teach me how to pray like how you taught your disciples. So that you may be glorified and I might see you clearer. Train my brain to slow down so that my heart can keep up. Knock down the walls that the world is seeking to build up in my heart and renew the passion to talk with my heavenly Father. 

Amen. 

November 14, 2011

hot excuse for coffee.

I'm trying to write on the plane. Great in theory, five hours of uninterrupted time that I am forced to sit in a seat and wear a seatbelt. But if you know me at all you know that this is basically the same as sending me into a torture chamber. I've realized the most effective and helpful thing for me to do on a plane is to sleep. Fortunately I'm quite good at sleeping. But I've had my nap, watched my latest downloads, cruised Facebook, tried to read. And I thought maybe I should try writing. So I apologize if it's a little ADHD, blame it on the plane. And the serious lack of coffee. I've had a cup of this hot excuse they call "coffee" on planes.  Starbucks... I miss you. 

I've spent the past week on a lot of planes. It's been a great week of visiting friends, being encouraged and challenged, a week of tears and laughter and certainly a week of grace.  I've been in Vancouver, Seattle,  (insert random city I forget), Atlanta, Maryland, Gaithersburg, Virginia,  Greenville, and Cincinnati and I'm ready to be home. 

Trying to recap and reflect on the week today on the plane I can't help smiling at the constant and overwhelming Grace of my Savior. I was trying to think about all the ways just this week that the Lord has said, see I told you, I'm working, just wait. The peace of God passes all understanding. And when I understand that I can understand what it means to rest in Him. He always answers prayers, often not how i think they should be. He gives wisdom to the humble and correction to the proud. A clear understanding of the Gospel provides me the freedom to be human. It helps me come to my Father quicker and more eagerly. 

[It’s comforting to know the gospel doesn’t make me less human, but simply more yours. Thank you for being a Father who doesn’t shame the downcast, weary or restless. You pursue them, you provide for them, you comfort the, you comfort me.]-Scotty Smith

Father I can't begin to thank you for how you've saved me. You took hold of this wicked, corrupted, sinful soul. You said,

 "Als, I died for your sin and I'm calling you to follow me. You will fail, a lot, and I know this because I made you. You are unique but your problems and struggles are not. Your sin isn't too big and your wandering isn't too far. I know when you fall and I will always be faithful to pick you back up. You don't need anything else except for me. All of this is for my glory. I will pursue you, I will provide of you, I will comfort you. I will be glorified through this." 

Father I don't have a category for this. Too often I get overwhelmed and weighed down by my sin. I fail to look up and see your willing rescue. I forget these words of life and promise that you've already spoken to my heart. Thank you for your son that you sent as a sacrifice for my sin, so that I can have a relationship with you. Thank you for your sustaining grace in the middle of uncertainty and upheaval. Thank you for the peace that passes all understanding. 

You have been faithful and you will be again,
All I have need of your hand will provide, 
You've always been faithful to me. 

November 6, 2011

raspberry coffee & wandering worship.




It never fails to amaze me how Jesus uses the most unlikely things for His Glory. It never fails to amaze me how He never grows weary of bringing me back.  It never fails to amaze me how Christ uses things in my life to become magnifiers of His grace. I wander, I worship, I wander, I worship.

You are Lord. You will be praised, you will be glorified. It doesn't matter if I care, or if I say... I don't need you. Even when I stamp my feet and close my fists. Even when I collapse in a pile of what I like to call justified anger. Oh Lord its not justified, I don't have the right to stand before you and demand things. Like a small child arguing logic over a piece of candy with their very patient parent at the grocery store. You will win, and you will end up picking me up off the floor, and carrying me out of the store. Oh Lord forgive my arrogance, forgive me for believing this lie of entitlement. I have already been given the most precious gift, all I ever need. My inheritance is secure and my adoption is accepted. You are Lord.

One day all of creation will bow before you, Father help me to bow today.  Help me to surrender my life, my heart, my gifts, my mind, my time. It's not mine, and I need to stop acting like it is. Thank you for faithfully and graciously picking this sinful little child up off the floor, carrying me out of the store, and showing me, teaching me, growing me in knowing, loving, and worshiping you more. 

I have such a long way to go. My salvation is complete, my sanctification is in your hands. 

November 2, 2011

6 cups is average... right?



I'm on my 6th cup of steaming hot caffinated goodness. That's totally normal right? (just smile and nod)

[Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.] Romans 8

Today the Lord gave me a crazy little thing called perspective,  for a few minutes I just marveled at all the little and big things that the Lords been doing  and how they are all of a sudden  starting to make sense and click together. It's like I finally realized that maybe they were there for a reason, and they were there to prepare me for what's coming next. I know in theory that this is how Jesus usually works. But it was incredibly humbling to just sit and think about all the ways Jesus really is working all things together for my good. Even if that good scares the hell out of me. 

[If you are God’s child, you can have hope in the middle of all the tough things you face because in all those moments God is with you, but also because the cross of Jesus guarantees you that all that is broken will be made new forever. You can live today knowing that you have a future that is beyond the boundaries of your wildest imagination. If you are God’s child, you have hope because God is hope, and you have a hope that will last forever because he has defeated the one thing that stands between you and forever: death.]— Paul David Tripp

Hallelujah to a God that doesn't want or need me to add anything to what he's already done. Hallelujah to a God who fulfills promises and comforts his kids through His Word.  Hallelujah to a God who hasn't ever had to stop and brainstorm a new plan because he was surprised by something. Hallelujah to a God who keeps me on my toes. Hallelujah to a God who gives grace abundantly, in the form of perspective. Hallelujah to the only God, the Savior of my heart. 

waiting for snow. waiting for peace.



Guys, Christmas is coming. I walked into my Starbucks this morning and I saw all the over priced, Christmas product, I had my first coffee in the classic red cups. Then I got in my car and listened to the new Justin Bieber Christmas album. All this to say. Christmas is coming, and its going to be great. I saw on the forecast for tomorrow there are two little snowflakes wedged in between days of rain. Snow, even very wet snow makes me giddy. Snow makes me feel small and amaze, I could stand out in the snow for hours never getting tired of looking at each different snowflake.

If only I had that much patience in other areas of my life. My favorite Christmas carol is O Holy night, there is a line in the second verse that says, "A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices." This imagery is so rich, if you know Christ you know that thrill of Hope. Hundreds of years later, this weary world is still rejoicing. It's that feeling of discontent in this home, knowing that we're created for more. Rejoicing that our Savior has come, lived, died, paid our debt and one day we get to be with Him forever in Eternity.

Oh Father, help to not forget that thrill of Hope. Not that my faith is built on emotion but that my emotions would be based on You. I'm feeling weary and incapable of much hope apart from you today. Fortunately, I don't have to muster up any kind of emotion, because my Savior never grows weary. This weary heart can rejoice and rest in His hope and His peace.

[Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.] Isaiah 40:28

October 31, 2011

blurry polaroid, clear weakness.



[Let thy personal weakness, O Christian, be an argument to make thee pray earnestly to thy God for help. Remember, David when he felt himself to be powerless, did not fold his arms or close his lips, but he hastened to the mercy-seat with "renew a right spirit within me." ] C.H Spurgeon

Oh Jesus make me weak. Renew a right spirit within me. I'm a take charge kind of girl. I love to fix things. I want to fix people, and circumstances, I get awkward without a to-do list and angry without a clear direction laid out. If you want to see the nasty side of Als put me in a room with a bunch of indecisive hungry people trying to pick a place to eat. I've been known to verbally give some people the smack down. 

One of my many flaws is that I'm someone who doesn't need other people. I don't need their opinions or approval.  Not that I don't struggle with fear of man, because I do, that's a whole other blog post. But when it comes down to it I'm arrogant and I don't see my weakness. (this attitude makes for a terrible friend)  If I'm not seeing my weakness I don't see my need of community and relationships, and I certainly don't see my need for a Savior. 

Oh Father forgive my proud, self seeking, self glorifying heart. There have already been moments today where I have made a choice that said, I don't care. A decision that was just dripping in self reliance.  Forgive me for so often crossing my arms and closing my lips. Trying to suck it up and move on rather then stoping, acknowledging  my weakness, worshiping you, praising you, and praying to you for strength. You are the Living God. I'm weak, help me to remember that. 

too early for monday morning.



Hey crazy weekend, I'm happy to say you're over. Although it's very early on Monday morning I can't fall asleep because I can't stop marveling at God's kindness and faithfulness in my life. I guess it's a good reason to be awake. 

 I was talking to a friend tonight (or I guess yesterday) and recounting the complete mercy of Christ's hand on my life, His  mercy in constantly anchoring my soul to His promises. Rejoicing in the comfort of His word in times of uncertainty. 

 Father I'm so incredibly amazed at your kindness and your mercy in my life. You chose to save me, and to keep me, to guard my heart and not ever give me more than I can handle. You're providing enough grace for every moment and suppling my every breath. I praise you that you gave me a boring  testimony, because the story of you redeeming any soul is the most amazing thing anyone in the world. I'm so grateful that you use everything, big or small to bring you glory.  I'm thankful that man can't thwart your plan or alter your will. 

Help me never grow weary of worshiping at the Cross. Help me never forget the unmeasurable grace that was delivered through your Son. Thank you for being patient with my emotional highs and lows, for my fickle heart and my distracted devotion. I pray for the future with a faith that you are the sustaining Father, the God of full and complete reconciliation. You make broken communities whole, you reach the unreachable, you soften hard hearts and restore bitter souls. You are the God of peace and rest, the God of healing and the God that is making all things new. You know what I need and what I can handle. You've closed doors and you haven't opened new ones. Change my heart to see that the goal isn't finally getting what's on the other side of the door but growing in loving the maker of the door. 

I was reading in Exodus this morning about when the Israelites are fleeing Egypt and Pharaoh is hot on their heels. They were all despairing and cursing Moses for dragging them out to the desert to die. Moses replies,  "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."

Father, draw me closer to you in this awkward season of waiting. I want your will for my life and right now your will is for me to wait. I don't want to wait, but You want me to wait. You're not a God that hides His will from his kids or leads us astray. You've made it clear that my place right now is to wait. It's probably going to be messy, it's going to be teary and probably snotty, it's going to hurt. But that's what happens when you start knocking down walls and idols I've built up.  Father keep knocking down these rickety support beams. These little "storms" are revealing the danger in believing in my own sketchy foundations. Keep building me into your word. Make my foundation strong so that my soul can only sing the praise of you.

The same God that parted the Red Sea and freed the Isrealites, is also capable of handling my restless, bitter, wicked little soul. He's already done it.
 

October 28, 2011

pre-coffee



Sometimes one of the ladies at work brings in her sweet little babe. He's my little buddy and "helps" me do my work. Today she had a meeting so i'm hanging out with the little man. He is the best part of Friday.

90% of this post was typed pre-coffee. A Barista at starbucks said he can tell if i'm pre-coffee or post-coffee when I come in. He said I looked haggard. I went to walk away and realized he just told me I look haggard. He said, "Aly, with how long it took you to realize that, you just proved my point".
"Thanks, just give me the coffee".

[Dear self, You are pretty good at pretending. You want to appear strong even when you are weak, but it robs you of gospel influence. When you lack transparency, people are left without the opportunity to encourage you where you need it most.] Joe Thorn

Here's the thing... Als, you think you're good at pretending. But really it's laughable. The walls you put up in your life and quick reply with the eager "I'm good! How are you?" The danger is with this is you might actually fool people. You can certainly convince the people in line at Starbucks. You might be able to muster up enough to trick the people that actually know you. But the problem is when you start to believe it yourself. You are eager to slap on a bandaid and work up a smile and believe it!

But my definition of "okay" is so far away from what Christ has for me. The problem with faking being okay is that not a mantra that you can say over and over and one day you will be. It's right up there with World Peace. Yes! It would be great, and it sounds sweet in a Miss America pageant but on our own it's not attainable. I'm screwed up past the bandaid phase. The sooner I stop trying to be something I can and never will be. The sooner I'm freed from believing the lies of the enemy that I NEED to be anything else.

The crazy thing is, that Jesus died for all my issues. He sees the Als I try to keep under wraps. And when I fail to see my need I fail to see my need for a savior.

[For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need.]

Father, forgive me for wanting to fix a system that's not broken. Forgive me for trying to clean myself up before I come to you. Help me to come completely broken so that I can find complete renewal in you.

October 27, 2011

now I see.




[This distinction [between law and gospel] must be observed all the more when the Law wants to force me to abandon Christ and His Gospel boon.  In that emergency I must abandon the Law and say: Dear Law, if I have not done the works I should have done, do them yourself.  I will not, for your sake, allow myself to be plagued to death, taken captive, and kept under your thraldom and thus forget the Gospel.  Whether I have sinned, done wrong, or failed in any duty, let that be your concern, O Law.  Away with you and let my heart alone; I have no room for you in my heart.  But if you require me to lead a godly life here on earth, that I shall gladly do.  I however, like a housebreaker, you want to climb in where you do not belong, causing me to lose what has been given me, I would rather not know you at all than abandon my gift.] Martin Luther

Father this morning my heart rejoices because I have been set free from the burden of your Law. The Law was a high bar that I could never reach. In it, I see my failure and I see your majesty. In it, I see my need for a Savior. I don't just need someone who can come and add to my best score. I can't say, 'Jesus I made it 5ft and I need 8ft, would you mind filling in the last 3ft?' No, my score simply was not enough, it could never be enough. God the Father saw that need and sent His Son to do what I could not do. 

That is the purpose of the Law. The Law points to the Gospel. It's not a set of rules that we must heed to because we are adding to our salvation. It's suppose to be out of our love for Christ we want to worship Him with our lives, keeping His Laws. The second the Law doesn't direct us back to the Gospel we need to say "I will not, for your sake, allow myself to be plagued to death, taken captive, and kept under your thraldom and thus forget the Gospel."

Father today I will fall short of your Law, just like I did yesterday. Replace the feelings of condemnation with conviction, bring quick repentance and sincere change. Be King of my heart and Lord of my life. Let me rejoice in my freedom from the Law and treasure my gift of Salvation. Make me fall at the the Cross of Christ in worship.  

[One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.] John 9:25

Father, when I'm burdened by the Law I can't see the Gospel clearly. It's like I'm closing my eyes and pretending the You haven't healed my blind eyes. Rejoice oh soul, open your eyes! "One thing I do know, that though I WAS blind now I see."

Amen.

October 26, 2011

laughing the laugh of unbelief or peace?



[By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.] Hebrews 11:11

[Heavenly Father, I’ve always loved Sarah’s story, for I’ve laughed the laugh of unbelief many times myself (Genesis 18:10-15). I understand her incredulity. How could her barren womb possibly bring forth Israel’s next patriarch? She doubted you and then she lied about her doubts—and you loved her. And here she is, showing up in the “fall of fame of faith” in Hebrews 11—chronicled as a woman who considered you faithful to do what you had promised you would do. And thus, Isaac was born. There is no other God like you.

It’s always been about your great faithfulness, not our great faith. The only real hero in your story is Jesus—in whom all your promises find their “Yes!” (2 Cor. 1:20) And so we come to you today asking you to do things well beyond our power—looking to Jesus, not to ourselves.

There are things many of us are facing which, on the surface, seem just as unlikely, just as daunting, just as impossible as Sarah giving birth to Isaac. Bring much glory to yourself as you hear and answer the cries of our hearts, Father.

For friends whose hearts have grown indifferent, even cold towards you, we ask you to bring new life into the barrenness of their souls.  It’s hard to watch some of your previously faithful servants become disillusioned and disconnected. How does a cynical saint become childlike again? How can vain regrets be trumped by renewed affections? with Pour out your Spirit, Father, in the name of Jesus.

In church families under assault of the enemy, in the entanglements of pettiness, over their heads in messes—do exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine. Replace rancor with revival; gossiping with gospeling; armchair quarterbacking with bent-knee praying; a spirit of retaliation with the spirit of reconciliation. Pour out your Spirit, Father, in the name of Jesus.

On those of us facing ill-timed crises; anxious about rebellious children; wanting to flee dead marriages; fearful of acknowledging not-so-hidden addictions; mired in toxic self-righteousness; paralyzed by guilt and shame; entering major transitions; weak in the face of strong temptations… running out of money, time and hope… on us, pour out your Spirit, Father, in the name of Jesus.

“Great is your faithfulness, oh God our Father. There is no shadow of turning with you. You do not change and your compassion does not fail. As you have been, you will ever be. Great is your faithfulness! Great is your faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies we see. All we have needed your hand has provided, great is your faithfulness, Lord, unto us!” So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name.] Scotty Smith

Father, I found myself in this very spot this morning. I don't know how to pray. Or even what details to pray about becase there are to many variables. Too many opportunities for my flesh to sneak in lies. Too many ways that I can doubt. Too many ways I can try to force my own will. Forgive me. Help me to rest in the peace of God that passes all understanding. Take away my laugh of unbelief. Give me faith to pray that your will be done. With a heart that knows that it will be done. May you change hearts, may you move obstacles, may You do what You need to do so that You can get the Glory.

October 25, 2011

why is the lid smiling at me?



I can typically consume up to 6 cups of coffee a day. The problem is I also love a good deal. I'm a faithful Starbucks lover and spent three years of my life behind the counter there. But I heard this week that McDonalds has this deal where you get a large coffee and muffin for 2.00.  Desperate times call for desperate measures! I can barely get a tall Verona for that!  Needless to say I went to McDonalds and was handed a the biggest cup of hot coffee I've ever seen in my life and a muffin for 2.00. Amazing. I mean yes, it's weird that you're smelling fries in the drive-thru waiting for your coffee. Yes, I hate that the lid is smiling at you.  The muffin probably has 800 calories in it, and I still went and sat in the Starbucks parking lot and stole their wifi. All in all, McDonalds coffee is probably the best thing on their whole menu, and even though it's not replacing Starbucks anytime in my life it's a decent alternative.

Thank you Jesus for a cheap cup of coffee. Today I need you more then I need Starbucks or McDonalds.  This hot, black, delicious liquid might be the answer to my headache but your Word is the only answer to my wandering soul.

[For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.] 1 Cor. 13:12

Driving through the fog to work this morning I was reminded of this verse. It was impossible to see. I could see the two cars in front of me and nothing else.  I could have seen the two cars and said. Well those are the only important ones to see. And kept going at my continued speed and trusted completely, only  in what I could see. But everyone would agree that, that is a   foolish, dangerous, idea that is gauremteed to end badly.

Oh Father, forgive me for placing all my trust in the two cars ahead of me. For relying on my own strength and vision for the future. You're showing me glimpses of what it's like when you lift the fog and my heart is eager for that day. Make me dissatisfied with my tunnel vision, grant me grace to wait on you for clear direction. Make me most concerned with seeing you clearly before anything else.

Amen.

October 24, 2011

monday morning drip



[To dry up a flood of rebellion is something marvellous, but to endure the constant dripping of repeated offences—to bear with a perpetual trying of patience, this is divine indeed! While we find comfort and peace in our Lord's daily cleansing, its legitimate influence upon us will be to increase our watchfulness, and quicken our desire for holiness. Is it so?] Spurgeon

Father it's not even 10:00 am and I've dropped the ball countless times. I was impatient and angry on the highway. I failed to love as you called me to love. I was quick to despair, slow to trust. I spoke quickly and now regret it. I judged someone so eagerly I completely misjudged the situation. 

You endure my contant dripping of repeated offences. This is too marvelous for me to comprehend. So sweet that my lips can't speak of it. Father may this truth flatten me. Like someone who gets kicked in the back of the knees let me fall down in worship and stay down. I don't want to move from your gospel but Lord my heart is prone to wander. I'm prone to leave the God I love. I'm so quick to move on and search for things to fufill me. Something that "feels" better. 

There are things in my life that I want gone. I want you to snap your fingers or command your creation to come to attention. I want healing, I want reconciliation, I want fullness, I want rest, I want peace. I hear myself saying, then I will love you more. These things hurt, they're heavy, I'm tired, just get them off. Change them! 

Stop me in those moments. Show me that "though my humbling wouldn't be my decision, it's here your glory shines so bright."(Valley of Vision) Help me to see your hand more than I see my discomfort. Help me to rest in the promises of your word rather then the poison of the world. Help me to see the wickedness of my sin and the abundant beauty of grace. In these things, through these trials and difficult seasons you promise fullness, peace, rest, healing, reconciliation. Make me more like you. Mold me, shape me and kick me in the knees. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your grace. 

Amen. 

October 22, 2011

refills.




[There are times when all the promises and doctrines of the Bible are of no avail, unless a gracious hand shall apply them to us. We are thirsty, but too faint to crawl to the water-brook. When a soldier is wounded in battle it is of little use for him to know that there are those at the hospital who can bind up his wounds, and medicines there to ease all the pains which he now suffers: what he needs is to be carried thither, and to have the remedies applied. It is thus with our souls, and to meet this need there is one, even the Spirit of truth, who takes of the things of Jesus, and applies them to us. Think not that Christ hath placed His joys on heavenly shelves that we may climb up to them for ourselves, but He draws near, and sheds His peace abroad in our hearts. O Christian, if thou art to-night labouring under deep distresses, thy Father does not give thee promises and then leave thee to draw them up from the Word like buckets from a well, but the promises He has written in the Word He will write anew on your heart. He will manifest His love to you, and by His blessed Spirit, dispel your cares and troubles. Be it known unto thee, O mourner, that it is God's prerogative to wipe every tear from the eye of His people. The good Samaritan did not say, "Here is the wine, and here is the oil for you"; he actually poured in the oil and the wine. So Jesus not only gives you the sweet wine of the promise, but holds the golden chalice to your lips, and pours the life-blood into your mouth. The poor, sick, way-worn pilgrim is not merely strengthened to walk, but he is borne on eagles' wings. Glorious gospel! which provides everything for the helpless, which draws nigh to us when we cannot reach after it—brings us grace before we seek for grace!]

What a relief. What a breath of fresh air. Contrary to everything our culture teaches, everything my flesh screams, I can't do this on my own. And I'm not suppose to. I'm not created to. I am created to bring Glory to God through my need. The Father killed His Son to bridge the gap and rescue me from my sin. My most desperate need has been met and all I need to do now is rest in Him.

The most beautiful thing about the gospel is that it's all-emcompassing. It always applies to every situation because every situation is built up of the same elements. Whether, you choose to believe it or not, all sin is sin and all redemption is glorious. It's going to look different in varying situations and it's going to feel different to different people but when you boil it down the gospel is the gospel and it is always amazing.  It always brings comfort and it always redeems. You can never add or contribute anything to it, it's complete. And I can't carry it.

Amen.

October 21, 2011

one day i'll be sitting in paris....



So Mabel went to the gym.... Woot! Then all she wanted to do was move to Paris and eat loads of bread and butter. Not like thin, prepackaged, lame, North American excuses for bread. But French fatty, homemade, warm, crunchy bread. Yum. One day. 

I am a creature of habit (I think everyone is in there own way...)  I order a tall Americano every morning. I listen the same types of music. I'm drawn to the same passages of scripture, I struggle with the same sins over and over. I love change and new things, but I also have some non-negotiable things I "couldn't live without". I love things on my terms and in my timing. But the Lord knows what I need. He's always faithful to bring that person or situation into my life at just the right time to shakes up my world and causes me to be totally dependent on Him. Throwing me into one of those seasons where I need my Savior more.

Scotty Smith hit it out of the park a few days ago with this prayer. So I just want to echo it...

[How thankful we are, there’s One part of our lives that will never change, and that’s you, Jesus. You are the same yesterday, today and forever. That doesn’t make you static or predictable, and far less so, manageable. But it does mean that we can entrust our hearts to you without reservation. In fact, it’s only in knowing you, Jesus, that all change is put into perspective.

The most fundamental change we need is to become like you, and that process is the most disruptive and painful change we will ever go through. Yet with the knowledge that one Day we’ll be as lovely and as loving as you, we gladly surrender to the work of the gospel in our lives.

Likewise, Jesus, the better we know you, the more we come alive to your promise to make all things new. Change has no sovereignty. Nothing is random in this world. Not one thing catches you off guard. The scary becomes the sacred when we’re wearing the lens of the gospel.]

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Lord I know my temptation is to flee. It's easier then doing the work. It's less scary then facing change. Preparation for change is daunting  and walking through a season of uncertainty is draining. I don't want to wish this away . This is a time for growing, like Scotty prayed. I'm so comforted by your word and the fact that none of "this" is catching you off guard. So Father, help me say thank you for change. Thank you for the grace you will provide to embrace and endure. Thank you for leading me through seasons of uncertainty with complete certainty. Thank you for the things in my life that push me closer to you, that make me need you.   

Amen.

October 20, 2011

timely emails



Yesterday I felt so small. If you've never felt that I'm sorry, because to me it's one of the best feelings in the world. Typically it happens when you're standing on the edge of a epic cliff or climbing a mountain, or standing next to the sea or something dramatic like that. But yesterday it happened at the park with my dog Jen.

Mabel had been a miserable beast and hit snooze about 6 times (which I can honestly say, almost NEVER happens). So I was standing at the park letting Jen be the wild beast that she is. With my eyes closed , still wishing I could be sleeping. Standing in the park with my eyes closed everything just started spinning. I heard every little thing around me. Dogs barking, birds chirping, kids crying, cars honking. I thought about everything lately that's been swirling in my head on repeat. Everything that's been overwhelming me, drowning me, consuming me.

Then the Lord stopped me dead in my tracks. And for two minutes everything slowed down. I realized how incredibly small I am, how incredibly all knowing and gigantic God is. How simple my needs are for Him and how willing and able He is to help me. I just had this image of God the Father sitting there holding my head up against His shoulder saying, "Als it's okay this is too big for you. Just rest. I will do what I've promised."

Then last night I got a very timely email from a friend that brought me to tears. It's funny to me how when God wants you to get something He has a way of making it very clear. She wrote,

[I do know what it is to feel like He's forgotten His promises. To be in a season of waiting, to feel His hand on your shoulder saying be still child. Don't move, you're in my holding pattern. Try not to shake His hand off and make it happen! His hand is restraining for now out of Love, out of Goodness. Our God embodies goodness, even though I know, sometimes it looks otherwise.]

[Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.] Psalm 100

Thank you timely emails.
Thank you lovely friends.
Thank you God for showing me that you are not hiding your will. You're making it very clear... Even if I don't like it.
Thank you for letting me feel small today.

Amen.

October 17, 2011

redemptive mess?




Well, I blogged this extra long post this morning. Poured out my soul to the Lord and whet to publish and the screen went black. Oh how I needed to re-pray everything my computer just ate. 

This was it in point form....

[On this beautiful October morning, what do I believe about you? Why have I surrendered my life and entrusted my death to you? Here are a few of the things which immediately flood my heart with joy. Lord Jesus, you are everlasting God—equal in glory with the Father and Holy Spirit; and I am a mere man. I would despair if you were anything less, and I’m very weary of trying to be more. You are the Creator, Sustainer, and Restorer of all things. In you all things hold together and for you all things have been made. You don’t just care about my soul, you care about my whole being.] - Scotty Smith

Father this morning I want to echo Scotty's prayer. This morning I'm astounded that you could love this mess. I'm amazed that you give grace to my rebellious heart and wandering soul. I'm shocked that you put up with my repetitive hamster wheel of sin and struggles. But even more I'm overwhelmed that you Love me, that you're caring for my soul and sustaining my every hour. 

[Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.] Romans 8

Father you've given me your Word to look at and be encouraged by your faithful promises and creations answered prayers. I look at the Old Testament and see promises and blessings, I see four hundred years of waiting and silence. Then I flip to the New Testament and see your son fulfilling prophecies and teaching the people. I see him giving up his life on a cross, being murdered for my sin. I see the disciples preaching, I see Jesus resurrecting. I see sin crushed forever. I see the promise of redemption and restoration for all things. 

Lord what else do I need? You are the God of all of that you will be faithful again. You will bring peace and rest to those who seek you. You know my heart and you know every inch of me. Help me where I don't know how to pray. Send your Spirit to intercede for me and help me to trust your story for my life. You died for my fear and unbelief. Its been wiped out forever, so Lord remove the lying traces of it in my heart. Free me from the bondage of believing lies about you.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Thank you for friends that pray for me and remind me of these truths.
Thank you for this beautiful October morning. 
Thank you for your Word.
Thank you for your Spirit. 
Thank you for IPads that crash. 

Amen.

October 14, 2011

good morning america



This morning I got up early and dropped dad off at the Bellingham airport. I had some time to kill so I hit up a starbucks and found myself in Jeremiah.

[Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.]

This is one of my favorite passages in scripture. It is rich in imagery and dripping in promise. It's a breath of life in days of discouragement and it's a slap in the face in days of self sufficiency. 

The first time I read this I couldn't get the imagery of a of a tree that's wrinkled with age.  It's trunk is bent, leaning slightly down towards the stream; as if it's longing for even more of the refreshment that the water brings. The tree is worn but beautiful, the layers of tough bark have been weathered down by storms. So much so that the grain in the wood is exposed and smooth. The appearance of the tree has evolved and changed over the years, but the structure remains strong. It's roots still run deep into the stream and delivers youthful strength to the entire tree. This tree is planted by water so it doesn't need to consider weather patterns, it doesn't need to anxiously watch the skies for signs of refreshment, it's secure. It's life comes abundantly through it's roots growing deeper everyday, into the stream. 

Father, I need to be reminded of this image. I need to remember that you have planted me by the stream. I'm secure in your promise to faithfully provide, you are the river that refreshes my soul. You are using storms and uncertainty to peel off layers of tough bark and pride. You're after my heart. Lord rid me of  the anxieties in my heart. Help me to stop staring at the skies anxiously waiting for rain when you have all  ever need. Crush the lies that spring up when the temperatures rise. You promise to provide all I need and keep my leaves green, you promise great fruit for those who's trust is in you. 

Thank you for planting me by the stream. Grant me grace to always find my life and joy in your glorious flow.

October 13, 2011

isaiah 49




[ Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. ] Proverbs 3


Two things are always sure. Mabel will always want a cookie and the Word of God is always True.

[Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.] Isaiah 49

Father, your commands are clear and firm. Your road is narrow but you promise great peace. Today, remind my heart, refresh my soul, that trusting and resting in my savior is a place that is "healing to my flesh and refreshing to my bones". Those who trust in you will not be put to shame. But Lord my flesh and my fears are loud. They shout out all my past failures; they encourage worst case scenarios to be played out on repeat in my brain. They love to stir up unbelief in my heart and hide the truths of your word. Father, today I pray that your promises would be louder then everything else. I pray that your faithfulness would be the main focus of my heart. Father, preach loudly to my soul, convict my unbelief and turn my eyes to your cross.  Bring healing to my flesh and refreshing to my bones. 

I found this Puritan prayer this morning, 

[When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me by showing me that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch, but in Christ I am reconciled and live; that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest, but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace; that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good, but in Christ I have ability to do all things. Though now I have His graces in part, I shall shortly have them perfectly in that state where Thou wilt show Thyself fully reconciled, and alone sufficient, efficient, loving me completely, with sin abolished. O Lord, hasten that day.]

October 11, 2011

oh sweet melody!




[But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.] Romans 3

Father yesterday was a hard day. It was one of those days where I close the door of the bathroom and pathetically slide to the floor. It was a battle for joy. It was a battle to rest in your goodness. It was a battle to release things to you. It was a battle to fake patience with impatience. It was a battle to literally not hang up on clients. Yesterday I sinned miserably, and I have no doubt that I will today as well. What a Patient Father you are! You are eager to help your children, and you take joy in seeing your kids run back to you.

I need the power of your gospel to sing sweet truths to my soul. You are never unwilling to give grace to your kids, so Lord, help me drop anchor in your promises. Free me from the bond of condemnation and guilt, show me the bitterness of my sin so that you might be sweeter. Help my restless soul be soothed by your glourious Gospel. Let the distractions of fear and uncertainty be driven out by the beautiful repetition of grace. Father, forgive my unbelief and help me be a child that simply cannot drink in enough of my Father. Thank you for what your Gospel stirs in my heart. Thank you that no matter how I sin and stray you never change your chorus or melody. Thank you for reminding me this morning that I've been justified by your grace as a gift and there is nothing I can to do change or improve that, It is finished by the death of your son.

Thank you for candy cane pajamas, and early morning coffee.

Thank you for your Gospel.

October 10, 2011

are you sure its open?




If you were to join me at Starbucks this morning you would have found me something like this. I rarely carry a purse but still carry all the contents that would normally go in a purse, It's a talent really. I can fit my iPhone, chapstick, and keys into that tiny little brown clutch. The ikea magazine is for ideas. The banana is for when I'm at ikea and Mabel desperately wants a .50 hot dog. Coffee is my sanity. That's how I roll.

A dear friend of mine posted this Celtic prayer this morning and it was such a encouragement to my soul.

Lord help me now to unclutter my life,
To organize myself I'm the direction of simplicity.
Lord, teach me to listen to my heart;
Teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it.
Lord, I give you my stirrings inside of me.
I give you my discontent.
I give you my restlessness.
I give you my doubt.
I give you my dispair.
I give you all the longing I hold inside.
Help me listen to the signs of change,
Of growth;
Help me to listen seriously
And follow where they lead
Through the breathtaking empty space
Of an open door.

Father, I can't put my words together as eloquently as this celtic poet. But I can pray his words as my own. Lord, you know the struggles of my heart you know the scuff marks on the doors of my life better then I do, you knew the longings of my heart before I could have imagined them. Lord, you've placed closed doors in my life for a season for me to grow. You've watched me learn to trust you, you've been sustaining my every step. But God, what do I do when you open a door? The discontent, the restlessness, the doubt, the despair, are still here. Instead of those things melting away by you faithfully answering my prayer. The flame of fear is fanned by discontent, restlessness, doubt, despair just as wickedly as the flame of discontent is. Things I've been impatient about, longing for. You open a door and say "Here. Go." what do I do? I freeze. My feet turn into cement bricks, my soul sinks and anchors in a ocean of fear. Suddenly the God that gave me the desires, the God that sustained me through waiting, the God that finally opened the door, that God suddenly isn't faithful and wise enough to walk me through the open door. I find myself praying, "Lord, are you sure it's open?"

Father, this is scary, it's overwhelming, I can't imagine the ending to this crazy plan, and I don't like that.

"Father help me to listen to the signs of change, of growth, help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead. Through the breathtaking empy space of a open door."

October 9, 2011

thanksgiving weekend.




[Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.] Hebrews 4.

[In the best roads we soon falter, in the smoothest paths we quickly stumble. These feeble knees of ours can scarcely support our tottering weight. A straw may throw us, and a pebble can wound us; we are mere children tremblingly taking our first steps in the walk of faith, our heavenly Father holds us by the arms or we should soon be down. Oh, if we are kept from falling, how must we bless the patient power which watches over us day by day! Think, how prone we are to sin, how apt to choose danger, how strong our tendency to cast ourselves down, and these reflections will make us sing more sweetly than we have ever done, "Glory be to Him, who is able to keep us from falling." We have many foes who try to push us down. The road is rough and we are weak, but in addition to this, enemies lurk in ambush, who rush out when we least expect them, and labour to trip us up, or hurl us down the nearest precipice. Only an Almighty arm can preserve us from these unseen foes, who are seeking to destroy us. Such an arm is engaged for our defence. He is faithful that hath promised, and He is able to keep us from falling, so that with a deep sense of our utter weakness, we may cherish a firm belief in our perfect safety, and say, with joyful confidence, "Against me earth and hell combine, but on my side is power divine; Jesus is all, and He is mine!"] C.H Spurgeon.

Father, this morning is a time to take a step back and be thankful. There are so many things that I could list here and fall at your feet in gratitude for. But reading this morning you were just reminding me that you come in at the top of the list.

Father, thank you for rescuing my soul. Thank you for sending your perfect Son to bear the weight of the world. Thank you for crushing sin and the devil forever. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for constantely steadying me. Thank you for sustaining me. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for your grace. Apart from these things I couldn't be thankful for anything else. let this not be something I remember once a year on a certain weekend but make my heart sing these glorious truths everyday of my life.

October 7, 2011

chipolte and ecalyptus




Perspective is a beautiful thing. I'm sick and I can't figure out if I'm just permanently sick or just sick for a long time and then get better and then get sick again. Today all I wanted to do was crawl in a hole and eat chipoltle and drink eucalyptus tea. But after the post about gyming it up I was afraid the Blog police would come hunt me down. Mabel had to settle for just the tea.

Actually me being sick is a classic Als move. It's like this bizarrely predictable full circle. My mom can normally call it a few weeks out. Just last week she said "Hey babe you're going crazy! Do you think you should take it easy?" Step number 1. Always listen to mom. I love being busy, and can only spend a couple hours in my house at a time. I've been known to go sit in Starbucks or wander Walmart just to get out. And I am normally oblivious to the gradual tightening of my hand on things that are becoming more, and more important to me. (Otherwise known as idols). I make excuses and nearly run myself into the ground. My last post was the climax point in this routine. Yesterdays lack of post was my burning out and today's is coming from a desire to fight discouragement. Classic Als. After I've come down from the climax I see the widespread nature of my sin. I see the devestating, arrogance in the way I've been living. It's then a battle to not become condemned and engulfed. Amazing how God glorifying conviction can so quickly become soul destructive condemnation. Jesus my soul needs to stay humbled and engaged. I can only move forward through you. I can only move forward because of you. You already died for my sin, your allowing these things in my life to show me that I need to be still and the only thing I need to be doing is pursing you.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalms 46

Father help me pray this, live this, need this, love this. You are all I need.

October 5, 2011

cheerios for dinner





I had a very large bowl of cheerios for dinner and spent the evening spent with the sweetest little man. It was the perfect happy ending to a crazy day. Tor happens to be a very good listener and we talked about life and Jesus and it provided me with some perspective on the day. It seems like just when I think I'm getting my footing. Just when I'm feeling like, 'Hey I got this!' The Lord breaks me. It's kind of him really, and after I've sobbed in my car I can start to see that a little clearer. I love to be in control. I am a girl with a plan and a back up plan and a back up to the back up. I sometimes trick myself into believing that I'm figuring it out. I believe that my planning really means something; that it really holds any validity.

But the only plan that is true and trustworthy, the only plan that I can build my life on is Jesus. Oh my silly soul, I don't know why this is such a hard concept for you to accept. It's so difficult for me to remember I got a tattoo on my left wrist that says, "be still". Apparently I should have gotten it on my face. Because the wrist obviously isn't enough.

I was having coffee with a amazing young woman from my church last night and were talking about how it never really gets easier to wait. It's easier to trust God in the big things. But the second something small comes up that you have a millisecond of control over God goes out the window. Why is it easier to trust Him with the big things?

Lord I can keep pretending and faking control through my life but its exhausting. Today you broke me down and commanded my attention. I need to surrender my past plans, current plans, and future plans to you. Lord you're not trying to burden your kids and strip the joy of looking forward and dreaming from our lives. You just want our biggest concern to be you and your kingdom. When that happens we are freed from this feeling of despair and confusion and are filled with peace and contentment. Then trusting and waiting doesn't just become some form of punishment but rather a open window. You want me to loosen my grip on control and trust you, because it frees me to love you. And you work all things together for my good.

I am and always will be a faithful Death Cab for Cutie lover. They have a song that paints incredible imagery of this...I recognize that this isn't how the song was intended to be interpreted but God uses everything right?

Oh, my talking bird
Though you know so few words
They're on infinite repeat
Like your brain can't keep up with your beak.

And you're kept in an open cage
So you're free to leave or stay.
Sometimes you get confused
Like there's a hint I am trying to give you.

The longer you think, the less you know what to do.

It's hard to see your way out
When you live in a house in a house
Cause you don't realize
That the windows were open the whole time.

Oh, my talking bird
Though your feathers are tattered and furled
I'll love you all your days

Jesus thank you for promising good for my life. Help me to embrace my gospel freedom from anxiety and doubt.

October 4, 2011

world meet mabel.

It's time to introduce the blogging world to Mabel. Mabel is my loud, chubby, lazy alter ego who loves to justify my bad life choices and especially loves homemade chocolate chip cookies. Somedays Mabel wants to move to Paris and eat homemade bread and butter all day.  Mabel is the person I fight with every morning when I am trying to get to the gym. I took a week off from last week and Mabel was loving every minute of it. Well this morning was a bit of a reality check for us both. I almost died and Mabel had to be wheeled out on a gurney. 

There are two good reasons I go to the gym. 1. My flesh is very loud, and discipling myself to get up is hard. 2. I don't want to turn into Mabel.  Going to the gym is incredibly difficult for me, because quite simply I hate it. However it's encouraging  to see growth from training and discipline. I does get easier to wake up, tie your shoes and go. You can run longer, sprint faster, lift more. (that makes me sound so legit!) 

By the grace of God, discipline in your walk with the Lord  leads to a deeper, sweeter, more passionate relationship with Him. It gets easier to trust Him. It gets easier to see your sin and turn faster to repentance and run back into His open arms. Often it requires getting up and telling your very loud flesh no; It requires you die to yourself and your wants and desires. But the Lord is kind and merciful and He gives grace aboundantly to all His children. He's walking beside you, He's watching over you, He's sustaining you. 

[Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.]
Romans 5:1-6

Jesus it was clear at the gym that I can't do very much in my own strength. Help me love training my heart to love you more. Help me rejoice in your plan for my life. Help me rest in the fact that you've completed everything I couldn't  do. Father help me to live in light of Romans 5. You're shoulders are the only ones that are wide enough to carry the load. Remind me that there isn't anything I can do to make myself more presentable to you. But out of a deepening love of my Savior, let there be a outpouring of God ordained change in my life. Help my heart joyfully sing the words of this old hymn...

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Sweetest comfort of my soul;
With my Savior watching o’er me,
I can sing though billows roll.
Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Let me view His constant smile;
Then throughout my pilgrim journey
Light will cheer me all the while.
Take the world, but give me Jesus;
In His cross my trust shall be,
Till, with clearer, brighter vision,
Face to face my Lord I see.




 

October 3, 2011

Who said the Beatles and coffee were a good combo?




It's a perfect rainy, October, Monday morning. I may  have set my alarm, got up, got ready had a extra 20 minutes, crawled back into bed fully dressed and fell back asleep till 7:00. I may have decided to wear a oversize plaid shirt and my comfiest boots to work. I may have been overwhelmed when I looked at my coming couple weeks. When I got to Starbucks to read and prepare my heart for today, I may have declared a passionate hate of playing the Beatles in coffee shops. Then I opened the Word to Matthew and was greeted with this firm rebuke from Jesus. 

[And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.]
Matthew 8:26

Father this verse comes as such a comfort to my soul. Not only do you boldly confront the disciples lack of faith but you faithfully demonstrate your power over creation. I'm sitting here thinking, Lord how could they not believe you were who you said you were? How could they not believe after seeing such a miracle? 

But in my own life lately I've struggled to believe you will do what you promised. Not that you're incapable but rather that you'll just choose not to act. I tell myself that my circumstances are too unique or too difficult for you. I chop it up to 'discouragement. ' Oh my wicked soul! It really just boils down to not having a big enough view of Christ. If I really knew you Lord,  I wouldn't doubt you. I wouldn't doubt your character. I wouldn't challenge your goodness and faithfulness. I wouldn't doubt that you love me. I would realize that you are right at this very moment sustaining me. 

There is a dangerous arrogance in believing that you are misunderstood by God (your creator). It paves the way for excuse making, for sin renaming and self justification. There becomes less gratitude and more demanding. It's a simple slide that's encouraged by simply watching tv, talking to a co-worker, walking into a bookstore. We paint it on coffee cups, cover billboards, write commercials about it. We design whole websites based around it, write song lyrics celebrating it. We throw it on a t-shirt and design whole clothing lines based on it.  We love being unique.  We want to be different. We believe the lie that we're misunderstood .

Father, don't let me get sucked into this. Help me build walls up around my heart against the enemy. Help me recognize quicker his heart manipulation tactics. 

Als, the God of the universe designed every part of you. He understands everything you think even more then you do because He see the whole span of eternity and you see a millisecond. The same God that told the disciples to take a seditive and trust in Him was faithful to calm the storm. He understands your weakness and He knows your frame. He is faithful to not give you more than you can handle and He is walking with you pleading for you to just trust Him. Get to know Him more, you'll trust Him more. 

September 30, 2011

grace in a mug



[Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 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, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope inChrist might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.] Ephesians 1

Rejoice my soul, you've been rescued, you've been redeemed, you've  been adopted. You are constantly being sustained and loved by the God of the universe. Scotty Smith said it better then I could this morning.... 

"As I head squirm in a season of difficult decisions, I’m so thankful that you are a sovereign Father, having equal care for each of your children. I can trust you. I don’t have to panic. I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to take matters into my own hands. I don’t have to fear outcomes, “what ifs,” or “if only’s.” Second-guessing must surrender to gospel sanity.

Father, help me to want your purposes to stand more than I want life not to be messy. Help me to glory in your pleasure more than I obsess about my future. Help me to accept disruption as a necessary part of transformation. There’s no comfort like the comfort which comes from knowing you, and calling you Abba, Father."

"So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ trustworthy name."