Monday, November 23, 2009

Bunches of Goodness

This morning, I'm sitting here, jumping for joy on the inside, bursting with something. It's like...the last few days have been SO good, SO much better than previous ones. Yet what I know to be true is that despite the amazing things that have been happening around me & the fun things I've been doing, it's not THAT that is supplying my energy. It is the in-explainable joy that comes from knowing that my future & freedom is all in God's hands.

Paul prayed that this would happen for us, "so that Christ may dwell in (our) hearts through faith. And (he) prayed that (we) being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that (we) may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." --Ephesians 3:17-19

...and we know that this prayer would be answered because "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful & effective." --James 5:16b It is effective, and felt beyond the realm of time. How would Paul know that we would need this prayer so much? He helps us to realize that the power of the Holy Spirit will meet us where we are through those who pray for us when he writes in 2 Corinthians 9:14, "and in their prayers for you, their heart will go out to you because of the surpassing grace God has given you."

God is answering their prayer, and giving us a bold & fresh faith. One that is not easily overcome. Still, knowing that we have this power through Him, we must hear him & open the doors to our heart, so that we can be cleansed & prepared to defend our faith to those who come with questions & challenge us. "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," --1 Peter 3:15

We can be confident that the prayers of the righteous will be fulfilled by God, & that we can walk in that confidence because we "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands." --Deuteronomy 7:9

Walk in boldness, gather all the confident joy you can muster from the bunches of ways that God pours out his goodness through his Grace, as answers to the prayers of many and rejoice in Him.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A little piece of beauty

Have you ever stumbled upon beauty in an unexpected place? Or had it bump into you at a time when you needed to see something of hope? I was reminded of a moment when this happened to me this year.

Beauty inspires me. It allows me to see something & create, fill in the unknowns of the depth below the surface. But sometimes beauty needs to be taken just at face value & heard in the quiet places. This summer, at the end of a mission trip, my friends & I took a week to explore beauty in Europe. The mission trip had been hard, challenging & beautiful in itself, but...I think we all needed a little breathing room to process all we had experienced. On the last evening, the three of us got all dressed up, did our makeup, hair & headed out for a free jazz concert in the heart of Budapest.

The concert was in an upper room of a classic WWII era building, of marble & stone. It was standing room only, and even THAT was crowded. So one of the girls & I decided to grab a glass-bottle coca-cola, and go back downstairs to a little lounge room with two sets of french doors, an over-sized fireplace and a black grand piano. The room was completely empty except for a round fellow, balding & aging quickly with round, inch-thick spectacles & a bow tie. He sat at the grand piano, alone, playing classic jazz melodies.

I looked at him & thought up this life....he was an old man, that lived a normal life. A life that had no adventure and no big casualties. One that was never written about in a book, or would never be mentioned in the papers. He probably had never been married, but had been in love once & had never forgotten her. He lived at home and took care of his even older mother who called him by his full name. Music was the one thing he did exceptionally well, and that was where his adventure was made. It was through his music that he could write songs about the extraordinary things that he never experienced but always dreamed about. Every Saturday evening he would sing softly to an empty room, hoping that his normal life would do something, for someone, someday, somewhere. And that was his life.

Of course none of this was credible in any way, because the only thing we heard from him was in it was all the beautiful imagination that I've been gifted with, taking hold of the could-be's of his life.

But it struck me then & again today, just how beautiful that moment was. Sitting there with a friend, listening to a contented musician play out his soul through the notes of a piano, in an empty room that was filled with beauty. Such peace surrounded us, such comfort & stillness. What beauty met us there. We didn't think of it then, but I see it now, that God's beauty is like that night. It's simple. It's beautiful & comforting. It draws you in. It is riveting & calm. Hm. To stop & notice those beautiful stop & notice how God can bring us beauty & stop & notice that He notices you, and wants to bring us beauty. It's beautiful.

Friday, November 06, 2009


We are not grasshoppers.

Maybe you think you are, but you’re not. I’m not just being silly….Keep reading.

Numbers 13 tells the story of the 12 spies scouting out the land that God had given to the Hebrews. They spent 40 days exploring the land, and at the end they came back with a report. Two of the spies (Caleb & Joshua) said “We should go up & take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” That’s a good encouraging report! Unfortunately, there were 10 other spies that replied “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are….The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size….We seemed like GRASSHOPPERS in our OWN eyes, and we looked the same to them.” The second report wasn’t so encouraging….it was rather deflating & discouraging.

Who really would want to do something like that, where your good friends & knowledgeable people came to tell you how little chance you’d have of accomplishment? I probably wouldn’t have wanted to go either…..but then again, who knows. I just heard a sermon on this passage, and it shocked me too to hear that they said how they “seemed like grasshoppers” in their OWN eyes. They had a view of themselves as little bugs…little annoying bugs that men can easily squash. Grasshoppers don’t have a lot of power…but they do seem to “whine” a lot, which is why I know we can crush them.

But what did Caleb & Joshua see that made them think so differently? They knew the power that they had with them. It was the power of the Holy Spirit, not their own power that they put trust in. I think the others must have known they had the Holy Spirit too, but didn’t trust in the POWER of it in them. The Holy Spirit’s power is in each of us who put our trust in God, and who truly believe that He is the One True God that saves us from our sinfulness. It is very easy to be discouraged when those around us, even people who love us, say… “you can’t do that,” or “I don’t know that that would be the best choice,” or “is that really where you think God is calling you?” You second guess yourself, and if you’re not completely confident in the power of the Lord, often you will give up that dream or desire.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7). We are each given the Holy Spirit, with the same power…missionaries in foreign lands don’t have a special power, pastors don’t have a special power…we ALL have this power & can overcome the things of this world that fight against us in the spiritual realms. Luke 10:19 reminds us of the authority we’ve been given….”I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions (two terms used to describe evil spirits visible in people of that day)…and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Wow. That sounds powerful. AND WE HAVE THAT IN US! Right now! Wherever you are!

So why are we so afraid to step out in faith & do the things we know God wants us to do? Why are we so afraid to say what we want to say about our commitment to Christ? Why? Have you thought about it? Use that authority to overcome the words of other people, of the beliefs you hear, and to overcome even the words you put in your own mind to discourage you. You are given power through the Holy Spirit to go into the world & change lives…to set captives free! Be FREE in Christ, not captives in the world.

So remember the grasshopper….yes, you are small like him, and yes, we probably all whine like him too. BUT we are not able to be crushed like him.