November 29, 2011


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. 


November 23, 2011


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. 


November 22, 2011


[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. 


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