Monday, May 28, 2018

imagine

[i can only imagine]

i was all tears
i snuck in a bag of snap peas into the theater, even a lacroix
but i forgot a kleenex
[its okay though, i also brought in a sweatshirt which served just fine as an oversized tissue]

this story represented so much of what my heart has been crying out in this season
for myself, for friends, for family
acknowledged brokenness
spoken fears
surrendered insecurity
anger, laid down

for honesty regarding our own wounds

adults willing to wrestle with the damage done by broken people
but still to choose the grace to forgive
because of jesus
because He forgave (forgives) every damaging thing that i've done
to myself and to others
mercy upon mercy
as He took all punishment for all of my mess
and in those moments of shame and insecurity He gently reminds that it still rests there on the cross
far from the memory of this good and perfect Father who accepts me as righteous now, without condition
and it becomes real
when this unearned compassion
bears fruit
fruit as forgiveness
fruit as transparency
fruit as grace extended out
because of grace experienced in

it's kindness to those who, without the power of the Spirit of Jesus,
haven't been able to make right the damage that they've done, to others and to themselves
it's letting go of the expectation that they will ever be able to see or acknowledge it
it's accepting that sin has so tainted every relationship we experience
that no one is expected perfection
even if that means that we are left grieving the relationships that will never be
the ones that never lived up to their potential
the ones in which people weren't able to see how beautiful it could have been had they lived into what God designed
knowing Jesus
He gives us the grace, freedom, to let people out of the boxes of our expectations for them
to accept the reality of their abilities, capacities, brokenness
and trust God to do in them the work that only He has the authority to do
with His patience, His tenderness, His kindness that leads to repentance

so this prayer that has echoed in for all these weeks and months
echoes out on through letters on a keyboard
that You, beautiful Jesus, would bring the broken places to the surface,
that You would lovingly drag the secretly-hurting into a safe place of vulnerability
that Your beloved sons and daughters would
acknowledge
identify
name (without blame)
the hurt that we've experienced
and that we'd watch with expectation as you
heal
redeem
restore
bring life to the dead places
for Your glory + our joy

Thursday, April 26, 2018

cruciform


the ancients believed that their leaders were image-bearers of their gods.
pharaoh, for example, was the image-bearer of the egyptian sun god, ra.
this idea, though, is grounded in reality.
God says in genesis 1 that He created the first man and woman in His image. and subsequently, every person whose life origninates from adam + eve (i would argue this is every human who has ever existed, and each one to come) then also bears this same image, God's image, and a significant identity and purpose to represent God to the world.
His goodness, His kindness, His justice, His grace, His integrity, His work ethic, His love for unity within diversity.
"problems arise when people determine that they are more of an image-bearer than others" said dr. jonathan greer,
and then referencing deuteronomy 7, "the Lord did not set his affection on you [israel] and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. but it was because the Lord loved you..."
"proceed in humility" dr. greer cautioned us.
and it struck a chord with this heart that has been wading through a heavy season of testing and sharpening and hard but good. so hard, but so good. the oh-so-painful-but-still-i-wouldn't-trade-it for-ease-and-comfort kind of hard.
because we're free to deeply and genuinely love all people when we recognize how undeserving of love we ourselves truly are.
we're free to give [kindness, forgiveness, grace, approval] to those who have hurt us, when we can see through eyes of humility.
but we don't simply choose to be small before others, this too is a gift, and it is one we must ask for daily, and probably multiple times each day.
to be honest, i don't do this well. sometimes i find myself going days, weeks, riding on my own perceived strength and successes, until God, in His grace, lets me feel all of the things that i naturally am apart from Him.
i see the ugliness and selfishness of this heart that forgets that i can do all things through Christ, and nothing apart from Him.
i experience the debilitating effects of anxiety when i've failed to look to Him for my next steps, but this anxiety, is also in these moments the greatest gift as it points me back to the truest north.
i feel hopeless and lonely until i turn back and see that God, whose image i bear to the world, is also my constant companion and my joy.
i'm thankful, thankful that we haven't been created to live this life without purpose or in isolation. i'm thankful that the God whose image i bear is willing to let me feel pain to be reminded that He alone promises a life without pain, sadness, fear, loneliness, anxiety, regret, sickness, death. because He alone has the words of life and the keys to life and He alone promises that He will come back here, when the time is best, and He will renew, restore, re-create.
if we trust Him and remember our place: undeserving, but fully and completely loved,
then we're free to give the same kind of love, the kind that doesn't need to be earned, because it is gift, grace, cruciform.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

advent


i had the honor of writing for a blog(below) that our church was putting together for advent. read the rest of the blog here.

ISAIAH 7:10-14
Here Judah sits as the King of Aram and the King of Israel approach with their armies and threaten a likely defeat. Tensions are high and hope is at an all-time low as Judah’s army is no match for the partnership between the Arameans and the Israelites. (Note: This is when the kingdom of Israel is divided – the Northern Kingdom: Israel, and the Southern Kingdom: Judah).
In the seventh chapter of Isaiah, the prophet is sent to the terrified king of Judah to warn him, and subsequently the people of Judah, that they’ve misplaced their trust. 
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”
Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
God wanted to offer a sign. Ahaz missed the flashing lights. But still, God gives the sign he intended to give. He makes the grandest promise. I’ll come to you, He says, as a child, and the child will be Immanuel, God with you. 
Isaiah goes on in chapter 9, 
The people walking in darkness
   have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
   a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
   and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
   as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
   when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
   you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
   the bar across their shoulders,
   the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
   and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
   will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
   there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
   and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
   with justice and righteousness
   from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
   will accomplish this.
When Isaiah references Midian’s defeat, what is the going through the mind of those who are hearing this prophecy in real time? Do you remember Gideon, one of the judges of Israel? You may recall the account in Judges 7 when God calls Gideon to go to battle against the Midianite army, which was grand in number. 
You watch as the scene opens and the main character stands on a dark hill overlooking the valley below where hundreds of thousands of people gather late into the night to launch their attack on the one you’re quietly but anxiously rooting for. 
Over the next few minutes you watch the reasons for hope flicker and soon your heart resolves to watch as the last stream of smoke whisks away the last bit of confidence that you had in your hero’s chances at survival, much less victory. 
The odds are so small. 
You watch as the crowd below seems to multiply spontaneously and you scan again the team that you believed in. 
    Three hundred compared against an army settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore. 
    The darkness continues to settle like a wet blanket, and standing under its ever-growing weight adds layers of despair. Your grip on hope is weak. 
    But then
    you hear a shatter
    and 299 of the same sound
    at the same time light pierces the darkness to the left, and to the right, and on the far side of the hill across from where your hero stands.
    He holds a torch in hand, a shofar in the other,
    the sound is deafening and the firelight so bright that your eyes haven’t had time to adjust.
    The 300 torch-bearing, horn-blowing soldiers stood in their place
    and that army in the valley below, the innumerable men and camels that had sucked almost all hope from your heavy heart,
    they destroyed one another 
    and the ones that remained? 
    They fled
    while the 300 rejoiced at the victory that was surely miracle. 
    Isaiah paints this picture, drawing the mind of his audience back to Gideon’s battle against the Midianites, and the growing hopelessness that many of the people of Israel felt as God limited Gideon’s army from 32,000 men to 10,000 men, to 300. 
    Why? 
    The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’
    God knows. 
    He knows the tendency of the human heart. 
    He knows my heart to believe that my own strength is the reason for any success in my life. 
    He knows that the human mind cannot comprehend His power and authority, and certainly not the depth of His love.
    He knows.
    So, hundreds of years later, when he speaks to Israel, through Isaiah, 
    He promises a seemingly impossible salvation
    but artfully reminds the original hearers that He’s done this before.
    In 2017, we know that He can save and He did completely when Christ came as a helpless baby boy and lived a life of fellowship with God the Father and died a death cut off from the Father and He did all of it selflessly, for the glory of the Father and ultimately that each of us might share in that glory.
    Sister, is there a challenge before you today? 
    Is God gently walking with you, asking you to remember His past faithfulness and to trust in His current faithfulness?
    All throughout Scripture, He calls his people to remember and to trust Him who is able. 
    Practice this art of remembering today.
    Rest in His faithfulness
    Remember the countless accounts.
    Deuteronomy 8, Psalm 40 + 41, remember when He reveals to a despairing Elijah in 1 Kings 19 that He sees a picture so much grander than our limited eyes can see. 
    Dear one, may His character stand firm in your heart and mind and you traverse the hills, mountain-tops, and deep valleys of life. May you look back at His past faithfulness and look trustingly forward to His certain future faithfulness as you walk out your days with Him. May you know it is HIS faithfulness and HIS love that carries you. You can’t earn this greatest gift. He gives it freely so that it cannot be stripped of its power and worth – His Presence. Treasure Him today, treasure Immanuel. Your God is with you. Always.

    Sunday, October 8, 2017

    psalm 145


    I will exalt you, my God the King;
    I will praise your name for ever and ever.
    Every day I will praise you
    and extol your name for ever and ever.
    Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
    One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.
    They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
    They tell of the power of your awesome works—
    and I will proclaim your great deeds.
    They celebrate your abundant goodness
    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
    The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.
    The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.
    All your works praise you, Lord;
    your faithful people extol you.
    They tell of the glory of your kingdom
    and speak of your might,
    so that all people may know of your mighty acts
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
    Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures through all generations.

    The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does.


    The Lord upholds all who fall
    and lifts up all who are bowed down.
    The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
    You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

    The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.


    The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
    He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cry and saves them.
    The Lord watches over all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.
    My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
    Let every creature praise his holy name
    for ever and ever.

    Saturday, July 22, 2017

    consolation


    it is because a definite faith is lacking to appropriate the spiritual blessings we desire that so many prayers appear to be fruitless. for such an act of faith not everyone is ready. in many cases, there is not a spiritual capacity to accept the blessing; it is where there is no true conviction of the sin of disobedience and consequently no true sorrow for it. often there is not a strong longing or purpose to obey God completely in everything. in others, there is no deep interest in the message of scripture: that God wants to perfect us to do his will, by His working in us that which is pleasing in His sight. in such cases the christian is content to remain a babe. he wants only the milk of consolation. he is not mature enough to bear the strong meat of which Jesus ate: doing the will of His Father.

    [a life of obedience, andrew murray, 1982]




    Tuesday, April 4, 2017

    seventh

    re-learning rest - having given in to busyness, the reason why almost 11 months have passed since i've listed. that's not to say that I have't recognized gifts, but it's telling that the time it takes to type and list these things has been low priority. this week of "spring break" and cutting down from 50+ hours of work/week to just 18 feels like life again. it's that rest that God talks about in genesis on the seventh day when rest isn't the 24-hours of laziness that we tend to think rest should mean, but its an intentional time taken out of the week, holy, distinct from the other days, different in that God sat on His throne when He rested and managed all of his creation. He took up the reigns and organized and prioritized and took authority over His life. and its what i've felt called to for quite a while now, and this week has been that gift that i have needed. praise Him.

    and if you don't already know, a few friends and i have been archiving treasures like these for a few years now, on our way to 3000. you can follow along here: www.3000gifts.blogspot.com

    Thursday, January 5, 2017

    disagree

    "if you can speak about what you care about to a person you disagree with, without denigrating them or insulting them, then you may actually be heard."
    -amy pohler

    Sunday, January 1, 2017

    importance

    everything in me wants to defend this fortress
    to "be true to myself" as i'm told to do
    because if i feel it, it must be true...right?
    it's shouted to me from each angle:
    feelings are the barometer of truth
    some days i try it out and i like how it feels
    and i rise to the top of the hierarchy of all things important
    they keep telling me this is right and good,
    this is the way to happiness and confidence and success
    i want it to be true
    because it feels empowering
    but i feel sick
    every time
    the instant gratification of being right and strong
    it does it's job, gratifying instantaneously
    then it flits away and takes everything with it
    and does nothing to improve the interpersonal
    or the intrapersonal
    finally in the early morning hours
    when eyes open sooner than usual
    and the mind spins circles so that sleep is no longer welcome
    i wonder if there isn't a way that yields more fruit
    because the rotten fruit that i've peeled from the branches until now
    has never found a purpose.
    i decide to try the opposite, experiment.
    the lowering of self to a place of minimum importance
    so as to look up to those previously labeled inferior
    i watch vulnerability blossom
    freedom and acceptance exhale
    and this feels even better
    more right
    more fruitful
    more life

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016

    shoelace

    selfishness stares me right in the face with an undeserved contentment on her own.
    i break eye contact and stuff my face back between pages. this only lasts so long and my mind jumps from one "what-if" to the next while my stomach ties itself like a shoelace, double-knotted.
    i read the same paragraph for the fourth time, retaining none of it. finally i exhale and the book lies facedown on the cushion and i close the soul-windows and allow my soul to be searched by the only One capable.
    selfishness is. but it is not master.
    selflessness is. greater reality. promise.
    if surrender. if the heart is willing to be broken and anchor it's hope in unshakable rock rather than drifty sand below sometimes- storm-tossed seas.
    rock. qualities and realities that don't change or move or depend on anything else to maintain their integrity.
    sand. always uncertain, tentative, contingent on performance and competition and comfort. and the wind and the moon and the creatures that manipulate it's resting place.
    selfishness is. but she holds no power that she isn't given.
    selflessness is. and holds all power. all authority. even death has no voice where the selfless stand confident, willing to know shallow pain for deep joy and temporary discomfort for forever rest.
    jesus, unshakable rock, be my rest, my confidence, my willingness to feel pain - to feel it deeply - but to know joy infinitely deeper.