Archive for October, 2010

October 29, 2010

The Reckoning

A friend of mine played ‘The Reckoning’ by Andrew Peterson at church a few weeks ago. I found it absolutely beautiful. I love the honesty of Peterson’s lyrics. Song lyrics often can express the feelings of our hearts when words fail – just look at the book of Psalms! Peterson’s song touches on trial, justice and waiting on the Lord. His honest cries are moving. It serves as a great reminder that in our waiting and struggle, we can cry out to God.  After all, he already knows what we’re thinking or feeling.  Why not admit it? In reality, God wants us to run to him. We may know that our situation will pass in time or that a particular trial is meant for our good but this does not negate our struggle and pain. We long for justice in our corrupt world. We yearn to know where God will direct us next. In all of these questions we must continue to run to Him with the honest condition of our hearts.

The Reckoning by Andrew Peterson

I can see the storm descending on the hill tonight
Tall trees are bending to your will tonight
Let the mighty bow down
At the thundering sound of your voice

I can hear the howling wind and feel the rain tonight
Every drop a prophet in your name tonight
And the words that they sing
They are washing me clean, but

How long until this curtain is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?

And I know you hear the cries of every soul tonight
You see the teardrops as they roll tonight
Down the faces of saints
Who grow weary and faint in your fields

And the wicked roam the cities and the streets tonight
But when the God of love and thunder speaks tonight
Down the faces of saints
Who grow weary and faint in your fields

And the wicked roam the cities and the streets tonight
But when the God of love and thunder speaks tonight
I believe You will come
Your justice be done, but how long?

You are holiness and grace
You are fury and rest
You are anger and love
You curse and you bless
You are mighty and weak
You are silence and song
You are plain as the day,
But you have hidden your face–
For how long? How long?

And I am standing in the stillness of the reckoning
The storm is past and rest is beckoning
Mighty God, how I fear you
How I long to be near you, O Lord

How long until the burden is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?
And I know that I don’t know what I’m asking
But I long to look you full in the face
I am ready for the reckoning


 

Advertisements
October 28, 2010

Confederate Prayers

I stumbled upon this prayer that is believed to be written by an unknown Confederate soldier during the Civil War.  I found beauty, strength, and wisdom in the soldier’s words.  Do you ever think back to some of the prayers you prayed and think, what was I thinking? Thank goodness that God is merciful in how He answers our prayers. Many times our prayers are misguided and misinformed. If we had all of the facts we would likely pray in a different manner.  A wise person I know frequently quotes, “God’s refusals are his mercies.” Praise God that he has a plan for our lives and desires the best for us – even when this means saying “no” to our misinformed prayers. God’s purposes for our lives are greater than our feeble minds can comprehend. It seems this Confederate soldier understood something of what it meant to pray one prayer and receive an answer he did not anticipate.

 

I asked for strength

That I might achieve;

I was made weak

That I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health

That I might do better things;

I was given infirmity

That I might do better things.

I asked for riches

That I might be happy;

I was given poverty

That I might be wise.

I asked for power

That I might have the praise of men;

I was given weakness

That I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things

That I might enjoy life;

I was given life

That I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I had asked for –

But everything that I had hoped for.

Almost despite myself,

My unspoken prayers were answered;

I am…most richly blessed.

 

October 24, 2010

The Beautiful Fight

Sanctification was never meant to be easy.  Sometimes we forget that we chose the narrow road when we became Christians. Each time there is a “bump” in the road we become flustered, question God, and may even be tempted to do things our own way. Yet each “bump” is a part of the refining process. Author, Gary Thomas describes this process as the beautiful fight. It is the battle that rages within us to submit ourselves under the authority of Christ. We are meant for so much more than what our human wills would lead us toward. The transforming power of Christ can allow us to experience brokenness that ultimately creates a new understanding, passion, and holiness that we would not otherwise be able to achieve.

It is in this brokenness that we often find ourselves surrendering to the transformational power of Christ. Thomas writes the following in his book The Beautiful Fight, “The breaking can be painful, even excruciating. It hurts to die to certain dreams and desires. It sometimes feels as though we’re being ripped apart when we let something go. But the pain is a good pain, and the difficult journey is a good journey, and the Beautiful Fight is still a beautiful fight.” There is something supernatural that occurs when we find ourselves in the position of surrender. We are faced with the reality that Christ alone is the one that can redeem and draw us closer to the people we were meant to be. So no, sanctification is not easy but it is beautiful.

October 20, 2010

It Is Well With My Soul

Learning the story behind this classic hymn has given it new meaning.  Horatio Spafford wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” after enduring numerous trials. His only son died 1871 at the age of four. Spafford and his family then survived the Great Chicago Fire which left them financially ruined. The family then planned to travel to Europe. Spafford was delayed on business related to the Great Chicago Fire and sent his family ahead. Tragically the ship his family was on sank after colliding with a sailing vessel. All four of his daughters died. His wife sent him a telegraph that read, “saved alone.” As Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he wrote this infamous hymn.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

October 18, 2010

Everyday Transformation

Over the years, I’ve begun to realize that change and spiritual transformation may not come simply because I will it to be or yearn for it. This is not to say that change and transformation should not be sought out (I would encourage you to do so) but there are times when it is just as important to rest in our current situations and let God meet us where we are. At times, we must simply fight our impulse to turn and run. God may have lessons for us as we wait for the next step. Life is often found in the journey.  We need to be reminded to slow down and just be. Seek God in the everyday. He is near.

Psalm 46:10 has often convicted me of this very lesson. I must stop striving and be still.  The NASB translations reads, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”  I often feel like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar when I read this verse.  I am frequently guilty of striving and struggling to control a situation or seek a way out. But, God wants me to just stop and be. He wants me to know he is here. Am I listening? Do I feel His presence today? He is with me always (Matt. 28:20). If he is with me always, I can surely rest in knowing that he will give me the strength to deal with today.

Not that long ago my dear friend Kristen sent me an excerpt by Carlos G. Valles. Valles encourages readers that we can find transformation by being fully present where we are, not by running from our circumstances or being so focused on the future. I found this thought to be freeing. I hope you find a sense of release in your own life to be exactly where God has you – knowing that transformation will find you when it is your time.

The Wisdom of the Caterpillar by Carlos G. Valles

We do not change by trying to be what we are not, but by being fully what we are. This is the secret. We do not change by looking at the future, but by living the present. When I am fully and generously all that I can and want to be in the present moment, I begin to feel inwardly ready to pass on to the next moment; when I am all I can be now, I spontaneously and obviously begin to be what I am to be next. The fullness of the present leads up by itself into the newness of the future. Today flowers into tomorrow when it is fully today not when it pretends to be already tomorrow in impatient anticipation and undue haste. Thus change takes place precisely by not worrying about it, by not trying to forcibly bring it about, by not imposing it, by not seeking it. Let me be fully what I am today, and I shall wake up to a new world tomorrow.

An example: We know that a caterpillar turns into a chrysalis, and a chrysalis into a butterfly, which is a nature lesson of a wonderful change. Now, the caterpillar does not turn into a butterfly by trying to be a butterfly, by planning, scheming, endeavoring, or in any way contriving to be changed into a butterfly with colored wings and flying antennae. If it were to do that (as man would surely do if he were in its place) it would only ruin its changes and spoil its future. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly and genuinely what it is now, not by trying to be what it is not. The better the caterpillar, the better the butterfly. The stronger the present, the brighter the future. The way for me to learn to fly one day is to walk firmly with my feet on the ground today. Nothing is achieved by dreaming and longing and craving and crying. Only by being fully what I am today can I get ready to be fully tomorrow what I can be tomorrow. My present stage fully lived is the best preparation for the next one. That is the wisdom of the caterpillar, and why it moves around contentedly at its leisurely pace. It trusts nature and it befriends time. It enjoys life crawling among leaves and branches, as one day it will enjoy life flying from flower to flower in the open sky. That is nature’s kingdom.

 

October 11, 2010

Recommended Reading

Recently I’ve been reconnecting with one of my old loves – reading. Here are few books that in my opinion are worth a read.  I’m always seeking recommendations.  Let me know if you know of a book that has influenced or challenged you.

Embracing the Love of God – by James Bryan Smith

This short book is a great challenge for readers to apply the understanding of God’s acceptance. God chose to love us before we even drew a breath – and He chose to love us with full knowledge of all our right and wrong choices in life. His love is a gift.  There is nothing we did to qualify for it nor is there anything we can do to lose it. Smith challenges readers to rest in God’s love as well as God’s forgiveness and then to properly take care of ourselves as well as each other. Smith writes with such honesty, openness and passion I found myself underlining and commenting all over my book. This book has been a catalyst to change my view of God’s loving nature. It is a sweet reminder to those walking with the Lord for many years or a deeper look for those newer to the faith.

Faith and Doubt – by John Ortberg

I find Ortberg’s honesty in his book, Faith and Doubt, refreshing and inspiring. Ortberg suggests that a certain degree of doubt is healthy for our faith. We learn to rely on God in our times of doubt and can draw closer to Him as we seek to understand His character. One of my favorite quotes from this book is “letting go is an act of trust.” In order to receive what God has for us, we often have to let go of the known in order to receive an unknown blessing. This requires an act of faith and trust when we can be tempted to give into fears. Our lives are often lived somewhere in the middle of faith and doubt.

Loving God With All Your Heart – by Elizabeth George

The foundation for George’s book is built upon six key Scripture passages. Her ability to connect with readers by sharing her own struggles and life stories is inspiring. She is able to illustrate how to clearly live out these key passages in her writing. I was profoundly moved by George’s writing on Philippians 4:8 and training our thoughts to follow what is true. George also writes on Matthew 6:34 (winning over worry), Philippians 3:13-14 (pressing on for the prize), Romans 8:28 (counting on God’s goodness), Jeremiah  29:11 (living out God’s plan), and Romans 11:33 (accepting the unacceptable). Thank you to my dear friend who recommended this book!

 

October 4, 2010

The Importance of Rest

Like many, I struggle to know how to rest.  I waste my time sufficiently but true rest seems to escape me. Not that long ago I found myself feeling completely burned out and on the express route to bitterness. I had forgotten that we are intended to rest and be refilled. After all, even God rested on the seventh day. One of the dangers in never stopping to rest is misplaced identity. We are not what we do. God chose to love us as we are before we did any work to become holy.

There are countless books written to help us understand the importance of rest. Let me save you some time. Here’s the gist, if you don’t stop to rest how can you live the life you were intended to live? It’s simple really.  How can we continue to serve when there is nothing left in our cups? How can we continue to experience the blessings given to us if we do not have time to enjoy them? So what does this mean? Practically speaking maybe this means you may say “no” to the next ministry opportunity that comes your way. Maybe it’s staying in on a Friday night. Maybe it’s reading a book.  It can mean a wide range of things for you individually, down to are you sleeping enough?

Another argument for rest is allowing room in your life for the unexpected. If we are constantly overloaded, how can we be available to the opportunities or emergencies that present themselves to us? We are then faced with having to turn down or “squeeze in” an event that might be enjoyable or something we feel responsible for.

Furthermore, being consistently over-committed and overloaded creates a significant difficulty in attending to the relationships in our lives. Our relationships suffer and we often fail to equate our busy lives with this problem. If we are truly resting and allowing space in our lives, we will be able to be more attentive to the relationships we are engaged in. We are more apt to be ourselves when we are rested. Often stress and being overburdened leaves us at our worst. Allow yourself time to rest and be refreshed. You were intended to labor but you are also responsible to take care of yourself by enjoying life, restoring yourself (physically, mentally, and emotionally), and being available for the unexpected.

If you happen to be a reader and are looking for more on this subject, here are a few of my recommendations:

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

%d bloggers like this: