Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tomorrow

So, I really wish that I had the energy to start telling of my trip my to Atlanta.  All I can say, is that my parents invited us to go with them to a trade show outside of Atlanta.  It was a wonderful, but busy trip.  I got to see the southeast for the first time since I was in high school.  I really enjoyed Georgia.  Not that I am saying I want to, but I could live there.  I have much to tell, or at least I think I do.  For now, this little snippet will have to do. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lies and Spiritual Confirmation

It has been a rough spiritual battle these last few weeks.  Satan has been adamantly pursuing the diversion of my steps, this much is sure.  Last night at church brought much of struggle to a head.  My heart has, for years now, held great hope for the future.  My dreams have been high.  My spirit has been believing that God wants to do ministry through my life.  Yet, over the last week or so I have been bombarded with the lie that God doesn't want to use me.  Possibly, I am a tragic character?  No.  No such thing for those who are called according to His purpose.  Yet, I must confess that last night, at church, I started to repeat that lie as possible truth.  So tired, so worn out by it.  The feeling so pervasive.
Church ended, and one of the women of the church, who also is the administrative assistant, came over to Kathleen and began to tell her just how much her heart was being moved.  She said that when she looked at us that she just got this overwhelming sensation that we are going to be used mightily, that something great is ahead.  Amazing.  God's movement through a fellow sister to so encourage and uplift.

After church I realized a great many things.  One of them being just how much we allow our emotions to beat us, especially when it comes to God.  Feeling good makes us feel like we are in line with Him, and feeling bad makes us feel forsaken, maybe punished.  The Holy Spirit sent a gentle stream of questions to me, carving out a niche within my heart and mind.  "Do fornicators not feel good amidst their sin?  Doesn't it feel good to do drugs, at least in the moment?  When you sin are you aligned with God?  Surely not.  Also, was not the ultimate act of love not born out of pain?  Are you not warned that you will suffer, indeed even told that you should consider suffering for Christ's sake a blessing?"  The questions kept coming.

The answer was plain.  Our emotions are very very important.  How we feel is important to God.  Did He not grow frustrated at the Israelites for sacrificing with hard hearts.  He complained about them doing what He told them to do, but with the wrong heart.  Right?  Does God want your actions most of all, or your heart?  We know the answer.  God yearns for our affections, our emotions, and the overflow of that into action.  Emotions are important.  BUT, are they to be trusted at all times?  Surely not.  The truth is the truth regardless of feeling.  I can hate gravity all I want, but jump off a cliff, and I will surely fall.  Those moments when truth and emotion are aligned are the moments where we are closest to heaven.  They are bliss, when our hearts know true humility and grace and love.  Wow.  Such moments are rare.  They are beyond us.  They push us on in hope to what we do not yet see, but long for in faith that it will be.

May our hearts know as many such moments as possible.  May our hearts be stirred in affection for You, and indeed for each other.  May we be able to discern the truth always, and be given the courage to follow it.  May our hearts be trained in obedience and righteousness.  May our faith grow.  May our hearts always be thankful, and our mouths be filled with your name and praise, regardless of company.  You are mighty God.  You are more wonderful than words can say.  You are why we live.  Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Love trusts...

A few days a go I posted a sentence.  It said, "Love always takes the best meaning."  What I mean by this is simple.  Love involves trust.  There are more ways than we know of to alienate ourselves or each other.  Language in particular is fraught with challenges for intimacy.  So wild is communication that, if you wanted to, you could mistrust and twist everything someone says to mean something bad. 

I have experienced this time and again.  I remember trying to woo a girl back in college.  She simply would not give me the time of day.  We would hang out.  I would say something to be charming or funny, and she absolutely shot it down, no matter what.  Nothing I could say was funny.  Nothing.  At the same time, her friends could not say anything not funny.  They would make a face like a two year old, and she would die of laughter. 

The more I care for someone, the more I trust what they say.  This is at least what I try to do, especially with age.  It has certainly applied in my marriage.  Satan spends gobs of time trying get us to feel that the other is being condescending, threatening, cheeky, uncaring, when they are not. 

So, who do you care for?  What do you believe about them?  If you believe in them, then take the best meaning possible when they say something.  Keep your heart open.  Don't let Satan take what is done and said and twist it into something it is not.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Writer's Block II

The season of writers block is over.  Somebody was praying.  I know it.  I can feel it.  Night before last, I just spoke before I thought, "I am going to write tomorrow.  How many pages?" 

"Five?  Is that too many?"

"No.  Five will be good."

That was it.  I just decided that I was going to write, no matter what.  The amazing thing is, the outcome of my writing was better than it has ever been.  One of the greatest praises I got from the few people that got to read the first draft, was that I have an incredible talent for detail and description.  Yet, there were times when my story would get bogged down by too much of it.  Still not feeling it, I just sat down, and typed.  What I found was that my balance between description and simple language was much more spot on.  Kathleen read it and just awed at how much better it was, how the vivid qualities were still there, but that it was so much easier to understand what was going on, and it moved so much quicker. 

God is faithful, time and again.  He is marvelous. 

Also, I have been trying to strengthen my singing voice, which is, in my opinion, weak.  I spent probably half an hour on the floor going, hooooowwooooowooooowooooooo.  Dogs are licking my face, howling.    It really works though. 

Trying to start memorizing scripture.  I have chosen 1Philippians 3-11 to start.  So, here's verse three by memory... I thank my God every time I remember you.  (A group of three year old children and some seals begin to clap)  I know, I know.  Brilliant.  Stop it.  No really.  I know.  The strength of my memory blinds me too sometimes.  Yes.  I too am in (head pops).

My heart is praying for you, that you may know Him.  My prayer is that He would afford you and I every blessing, that nothing would be withheld.  That whatever trial or triumph would bring us closer to Him would be given.  He is mighty.  He is wonderful.  I am so very thankful for you.  Yes, I am thankful every time I remember you.  May you all come to know the love of God.  May your day be truly blessed.  In Jesus' name I ask these things, Amen.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Writer's Block

I could really use some prayer for a clear heart and mind as it pertains to Light Blue.  I have taken the advice given from those whom have read it.  I have measured it, kept what I wanted to apply, and am ready to move forward.  However, I am struggling to feel it.  Somewhere along the way, I have lost sight of it.  I am also frustrated that I haven't finished it.  My imagination has already thought up another ten possible books to write since starting Light Blue.  There is surely a significant spiritual battle going on surrounding this book.  Please pray that my heart and mind would sharpen and cut through the cloud that has made going forward a confusing process, where it was once so free and open and real.

To all my friends, you are in my thoughts.  You are the constant audience in my heart and mind.  You are a gift God has given to help me press on toward the prize.  Whether I saw you last yesterday, or ten years ago (Alina.  Way too long.), my affection for you has not diminished.  Like it or not, you are piece of me, just like my left hand.  I pray for you constantly.

Also, I want to comment back on what I wrote yesterday on our response to the threat of idolatry.  The reason that subject comes up so often is because it is a personal struggle for me.  Much how a recovered alcoholic reviles alcohol, so do I despise this lie, as it stole much joy from me in my youth.  I should've mentioned my part in it, but I forgot. 


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Abundant Love

Philemon 1:12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 

 I have written about this subject before, but it was rattling around my brain again this morning as I was sitting in membership class to join the Village in Dallas.  I was thinking about how most Christians I have seen respond to idolatry.  When we discover that idolatry is not limited to wooden statues and graven images, but is really just putting anything above God, we react in a peculiar way.  Instead of elevating our affection for God, we try to degrade our affections for one another.  It's almost like we (or just flat out) don't really believe that our affections for God could be greater than everything else, so we manipulate our hearts.  Is that really what God has had in mind?  That doesn't sound abundant to me.  Does that sound abundant to you?  Does that sound like the life our mighty God wants for us?  Does He really just want manipulated affection, or something genuine?  What would you want?  Would you be okay with someone trying to love you more than someone else, but they do so not by loving you more, but by telling themselves they love whomever it is they more than you less, by forcing it?  That sounds like hell.  Fake love.  Fake affection.  God wants us to let our hearts fly with each other.  We should love our neighbors.  We should not withhold an ounce of affection between us.  We should simply love God more, and He is worth it.  With Him there is no limit.  

I see the language that Paul again and again uses in his letters when addressing others, and I want to match it.  One of our favorite new people at the Village is our Campus Pastor Steve Hardin.  We stay after the service almost every week just to talk for a few minutes.  Since I have gotten to know him a bit, I find others responses funny.  Most people see his energy and enthusiasm up on stage and are cynical.  They think it is an act, fake.  When I tell them it is all very very hysterically real, they are shocked.  He is up front about his failures.  He is not fake.  He just genuinely has a passion for Jesus and His flock.  He says I love you so much it is crazy, and I believe him when he says it.   That I could grow in my affection for God's people...


May our hearts be honest with where we are.  May we open ourselves up to whatever it is that God has for us.  May He grant you and I every blessing, pleasant or not.  May our affection be true and whole.  May our hearts be thankful for what has been, and hopeful for what He is bringing.  Be with my heart.  In Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Until then...

God is always faithful.  This same issue pops up again and again, and He doesn't mind reminding me of the truth.  The issue is that I want to serve Him in ministry, it is an insatiable thirst that I have.  Oddly, however, this good thing has often come between God and I.  How twisted is that?  Yet, He is always swift to remind and refresh in me that while serving Him is wonderful, it is really intimacy with him that is desired.  That patience and kindness also serves to remind me that I am to be the same to others.  Again and again I am to be patient and loving and forgiving, not just once.

My prayer has been for intimacy for you and I.  May we look to serve, but never let it get in the way of the higher calling of simply loving and knowing God.  May we not pass Him up for His stuff, not even His service.  May we love Him fully, and in turn, others greatly.  May our hearts submit, be softened, and grow in affection.

Gungor
Beautiful Things

All this pain..
I wonder if I'll ever find my way.
I wonder if my life could really change, at all.
All this earth..
Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come up from this ground, at all?

 You make beautiful things,
You make beautiful things out of dust.
You make beautiful things,
You make beautiful things out of us.

All around,
Hope is springin up from this old ground.
Out of chaos, life is being found in You.

You make me new,
You are making me new.
You make me new,
You are making me new. (making me new.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

No Substitute

I just want to take this space to say that God is it, and by it, I mean the ultimate.  He really is the only reason for living.  He gives all else meaning.  When I enjoy my food, it is ultimately his creativity and generosity in which I delight.  When my heart is stirred in the company of family and friends, it is ultimately Him I am enjoying.  Everything is a lens, some clearer than others.  Some are downright murky, or magnify other things.  May I ever magnify the Lord for you and others.  May I be a someone who brings the truth and love of God closer to your sight, for He is great.  He really is mighty.   That is all I want to say tonight. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Drops in the River

Drops in the River
By Fleet Foxes

Crown of leaves, high in the window on a cold morning
Young today, old as a railroad tomorrow
Days are just drops in the river to be lost always
Only you, only you, you know

Years ago, birds of a feather would arrive nightly
Gone you know, held to another like clutched ivy
On the shore, speak to the ocean and receive silence
Only you, only you, you know

You hesitate so my memory fade, I'll hold to the first one
I wouldn't turn to another you say, on the long night we've made
Let it go

Only you, only you, you know
Only you, only you, you know

You hesitate so my memory fade, I'll hold to the first one
I wouldn't turn to another you say, on the long night we've made
Let it go

Speak to me slow my dear
No ghost of course in here
Pleased to be lonesome quiet and clear
All is alone in here

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Life to Behold

Something has been on my heart and brain all day yesterday and today.  I keep thinking about the life of Jesus and of those in the New Testament in particular.  What has been running through my mind when I think about them is the type of life they led.  The key thought has to do with what our lives are for, and in particular, what kinds of risks are to be made with them. 

Jesus lived only to his early thirties.  Most of the new testament greats died young by our standards. 
Don't get me wrong in thinking that I am saying that dying young is something to long for.  I am surely not.  The Bible is very clear that a long life is a blessing.  Read proverbs and the Psalms, and you will see it again and again.  My question has to with heart, not outcome.  How do I hold this life?  Do I hold it lightly when everyone else tells me to hold onto it with the utmost ferocity?  Or do I be frivolous with it?  Surely it is neither.

As I pray and seek, I find God's recurring answer to have nothing to do with numbers, but trust and sacrifice.  His answer is to simply give, and let Him worry about the result.  Live long, short, whatever.  The answer is to live open and full, not withholding anything.  That is what I am trying to do daily, and is what I am busy praying for when I beseech God on behalf of others.  I ask that we would all live for Him, with abandon, though not reckless.  For me, as I go forward, and am searching for where God would have me spend my days, I am becoming more and more excited, though nothing outwardly has really changed.  Simply, God has been ever faithful to hear my prayers for a heavy hand in my life and yours.

Hebrews 5:7-9
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 
8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.  
9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 

Redeeming Love
By Amy Stroup


Verse:
Too late to tell
The damage done
Too late to find
Where the source came from
Forgiveness call
Bacons me
To find the courage and let it be

Chorus:
And I Fix my Eyes
On redeeming love
And I Fix my Eyes
On redeeming love
And I Fix my Eyes
On redeeming love
I fix my eyes on Redeeming Love

Verse:
Can’t turn back time
Can’t erase the truth
Can’t relieve the things you
Wanna undo
So fall forward
Let it mark your soul
Keep your heart tender
And your thoughts bold

Chorus

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What Dost Thine Heart Desire?

Yes, writing that title was fun.

I am constantly asking myself what it is that I want.  This seems to be a simple question to most people, but I don't think it is.  Our wants and desires are complex.  They overlap each other.  My desire to do what ever it is that I want often collides with my desire to please God, family, friends, etc.  Some desires return short term pleasures, but can almost immediately bring about pain.  My momentary desire to feed my lust or anger will surely bring about a split second of pleasure, but lasting pain as a consequence.  Other pleasures are only had by wading through pain first.  My desire to serve God has surely been fraught with trial and difficulty, but is the most rewarding.

What I have been reminded of these last few days out here at the ranch, is a certain balance.  On one hand, I am constantly reminded that I cannot let my emotions dictate what I think, believe, or do.  This was the mark of my youth.  One of the ultimate marks of God's maturation of me is, as I grow older, that I have become quicker to see and react to the lie that because I feel something, that I must react on it.

The other side, and this is the one O struggle with the most, is that, while emotions shouldn't dictate you, they are important.  Without desire, what are you?  Is that not what God ultimately desires from you Himself?  It isn't actions or deeds, it is desire itself, which then brings about actions and deeds naturally.  Isn't that what God demands of us with each other, that we would desire Him through others, through nature?  Surely it is.
Our wants are definitely important.  After ten years of wilderness, these questions mark me still.  I have answered them and forgotten again and again.  Each time I get stronger in the truth though.  Each time I understand a little more.  Each time the fight gets easier.

We also know that our desires and feelings are important when we think about what we want from other people.  Ultimately, it is not deeds or actions.  Kisses can be empty, food can be served vainly, gifts can be given begrudgingly.  We desire other people's desire.  We want others to be important to us, and to be important to others.

I hope I have not painted a self serving portrait.  It is not my intent.  I am simply sharing my thoughts.  God is the ultimate.  He is the reason I live.  If I have given any other idea through these words, then my words have failed to convey the truth of my heart.  My desire is to grow closer to God.  It is that I often find that my idea of what I thought God wanted from me was wrong.  That is my real question.  What does God want, expect from me?  That is what I want to know.  I don't want to assume I have the whole answer.  I find that I know, but only in part, not in full, and that is where my questions are, in the rest.  I will not know fully in this life, but I will try my best to know as fully as I can.