Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Bit of a Ramble, If I May {Follow}

Missing these guys,

I pack boxes under duress, stress going right in with the dishes and books and baskets and lamps and the how-am-I-ever-gonna-get-that-in-a-box paintings. My guy hunches over heavy decisions and yes, *blush*, there may or may not have been some shouting this week. Transition brings out our differences like a hammer-knocked thumb and oh my, are we so very different ... Transition brings out hope too, though, and I have a fair portion of that lately also. Above all, this I learn - transition refines the follower in me.

Following with excellence boils down to trust. Boiling cauldrons full of stressful choices large and small characterize transition, and all this bubbling, pounding becomes a repeating echo He asks again: "Will you trust Me?"

If I answer yes, I know what He'll say next.

"Then follow Me."

Which boils down to humility. As much control as I'd wield if I could for my own facade of comfort, I would. But what then? I wouldn't be following, I'd be rebelling. And I'm left with one choice. Surrender. Again. 

Because I'm no good at being sovereign, but I do know the One who is.

Yesterday the verse leaped off thin pages and landed in my soul like an anchor.

“No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” - Luke 18:27 (Msg) [emphasis mine]

I'm loving these bold lines He draws with me. I haven't always - loved them, that is. Today I devour them like candy. Try it on your own, fail every time; trust Me and follow Me, it's guaranteed. 

And what choice do I have? 

This humbling passage rolls through my recesses today:

“Welcome, Prince,” said Aslan. “Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?”“I—I don’t think I do, Sir,” said Caspian. “I’m only a kid.”
“Good,” said Aslan. “If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not. Therefore, under us and under the High King, you shall be King of Narnia..." - C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

If I'm to follow Him, I must trust Him to do it - every part. I am merely the one cooperating, receiving, walking in the paths He paves with holy Feet. He's readying them for my gospel-shod soles too.  

Is following Jesus easy? Hardly. Is there any other way? Not for me.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Everything You Have Promised {Sabbath Bread}

"Even though you are so high above,
  you care for the lowly,
    and the proud cannot hide from you.

When I am surrounded by troubles
you keep me safe.
You oppose my angry enemies
    and save me by your power.

You will do everything you have promised;
    Lord, your love is eternal.
    Complete the work that you have begun."
-Psalm 138:6-8 (GNT)

Oh God, today I am reminded once again of your Sovereign power and control over the circumstances of my life. I am so impatient sometimes, so demanding, so anxious for control. Surrounded by troubles and enemies and then ... Your peace flowing to overflowing, making every empty striving void full of the calm only You offer. And how could I ask for more. May this awakening of Your faithfulness and every kept promise make me alive like never before. Alive in You by Your grace. Let Your glory invade me until I wake up to Your peace. Finish this work you've started until I spill over with Your goodness. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The One Who Came Back {a little bird told me}

Today - some paraphrasing.

The story goes that a really righteous Dude healed ten guys infected with a skin-rotting disease and told them all to go get checked by the official so they could get back to their families and lives. And nine clean-skinned guys did just that. Then there was the one who came back. Dropped right down on his knees and said Thanks. Praised the Healer. Let the joy out - expressed, shared.

And the righteous Dude? He asked about the others, knowing they were changed too. Life changed. As in - radically restored. Their response was to go and do what He commanded. But that's the thing with gratitude - He doesn't necessarily command it. 

But He does appreciate it. 

I tell people sometimes - when they ask, and maybe when they don't. Tell them, "If you want to put a smile on God's face, tell Him Thanks." Not because He commands it or demands it (He could), but because He deserves it. Compels it. Woos it. He gives extravagant gifts of love, healing, restoration, joy - and why wouldn't we? Every. Single. Breath.

A feeble attempt today as I paraphrase Psalm 136, the gratitude Psalm if there ever was one.

You alone are worthy.

Your love never stops giving.

Thank You for being my Sovereign One.

Your love just keeps on giving.

You are higher than any other.

Your love never gives up.

Thank You for miracles.

Your love keeps going on and on.

Thank You for this amazing creation all around.

Your love is still giving.

Thank You for oceans and hills.

Your love never fails.

Thank You for space, and the sun that warms me, shows me Your love.

Your love doesn't stop.

Thank You for the nights, so lovely.

Your love doesn't quit.

Thank You for provision, even when it's cloaked in tragedy.

Your love never changes.

Thank You for rescuing me from slavery and prison.

Your love is endless.

Thank You for holding us all and making a Way to worship You in freedom.

Your love never ceases.

Thank You for safe travel and for squelching our enemy's schemes.

Your love is unending.

Thank You for leading us to the places You choose, to the best land.

Your love is unfailing.

Thank You for overcoming the hurdles and barriers that stand in our way.

Your love endures forever and ever.

Thank You for displaying Your sovereign rule for all to see.

Your love never fails me.

Thank You for defeating those proud slanderers who have no clue about us.

Your love doesn't end.

Thank You for giving us blessings we didn't have to work for, and for granting all we need and more.

Your love goes on and on. 

Thank You for never letting us out of Your sight for a second.

Your love is ever-faithful.

Thank You for saving us from those with ill-intent, those would-be destroyers and tramplers.

Your love never ceases to amaze me.

Thank You for generosity to us poor beggars.

Your love is ever-giving and extravagant.

Thank You, God. All we have is from You. You alone deserve every ounce of credit.

Your fountain of love never runs dry. 

If we stop and go back, let it be to say Thanks.

People ask me questions sometimes. Not that I claim expertise, but I do like to answer when I can. My own personal alms to give, though aren't we all poor in some way or other? If you have a question, I'd like to answer, Dear Reader. Some of the questions I've had recently include:

How do I know how to help in this world of corruption?

How can I memorize Scripture? I'm no good at it...

Am I crazy for thinking I love him?

How am I supposed to be open and honest without airing all of my junk?

So, how about you, Dear Soul - do you want to ask a question too? Here's the invitation I give here in my nest: Have you ever wanted to ask a question about life, God, the Bible, relationships, people, church, or anything? (That last one is scary, but that's why I need the Holy Spirit to write through me.) Go ahead and ask me! Just slip your anonymous question into the comments section below, and sign it with a fun salutation like Wishing I Could Fight or Hopelessly In Love With The Wrong One.  I'll do some research and write back to you next week here in the nest. My answers come from the Bible, revelation from God (as He generously gives - see James 1), and personal experience. And then, when it comes up in your conversations with others, you can always say, "Well, a little bird once told me ..." *wink*

Keep looking, reading, writing, and thanking. He is Worthy.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Five Minute Friday {Messenger}

Good afternoon, and happy Friday! I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo today for Five Minute Friday - please join us as we write for 5 minutes together. For more information and to link up, click here.

Five Minute Friday

Today our topic is Messenger


Does the message define the messenger? Sometimes, yes. Is that why we shoot the messenger?

I've written my life's message, even spoken it to groups large and small. This message that burns and refines and focuses, even drives. Fire in my bones. 

God's extravagant love compels reciprocation from His beloved. He shows us how in His Word.

Perhaps a message won't define this messenger, but it does at least paint my feet beautiful. 

"How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
    the news that the God of Israel reigns!"
            -Isaiah 52:7 (NLT)

And who needs pedicures when the Gospel does that?

Your message? You'll have to ask the Sender of messages for it, but when you do, He'll answer with gladness. And when for Him you bring it to the outcast, broken, poor, messy, tossed-aside, hopeless on the mountain of life ... such a praise you will bring to Him.

A messenger of love.


Happy writing, Friends! Be it for five minutes, or more. And don't forget to encourage other Five-Minute-Friday writers too!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Value of Faithful

Massive monuments start as small stones. Lifetimes are built from moments, and organizations are a million common actions in the same direction. A teaspoon of faithfulness seasons a whole batch of character.

God refers to Himself as Faithful. It's an adjective the Almighty uses to describe His Divine Being to mortals.

"The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, 'Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.' " - Exodus 34:6 (NLT) [emphasis mine]

I'll never forget the question my mother asked me when I was old enough to choose God. "How do you know God is real?" I didn't know how to answer, so she helped me. "He does what He says. What He promises in the Bible - it comes true, both in history, and in your life." I don't know if she realized in that moment how her words would change me.

His faithfulness proves His existence, even proves His love.

Can that be said of me, His follower? While I won't be perfect, and neither will you, Dear One, we are being conformed to His likeness. Our faithfulness will grow. More of what we promise will come to pass, the more we surrender to His power to change us. And this is what we follow, this is who we become - Faithful.

Have you committed to something in zeal without counting the cost?

Have you backed out on a commitment or a relationship God wanted you to see through?

Have you made excuses instead of making promises; instead of keeping them?

Have you gone right when the voice in your heart said to go left?

Have you said the words you swore you'd never say?

Have you left untended the dream you promised your heart you'd achieve?

Believe me, I'm preaching this to my soul too first, Reader. Getting my plank out before I look for your splinter. I've failed at faithfulness more times than I care to count, but this: progress. I press on. I pursue His likeness. I cooperate with His molding. I desire to reflect Him. It starts small and builds, it grows. This snowball of faithfulness rolling toward avalanches. 

What faithful steps can we take today that will emulate our Lord Jesus, and what bricks can we lay on the foundation of our lives that will speak to all, "I have done what I set out to do"?