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Saturday, May 28, 2011

More Work to be Done

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." -- Proverbs 31:30

At the end of the funeral service, she steps up to the microphone, purse in hand. The mother whose son's life burned bright for 32 short years. The room grows still as our eyes focus and our hearts lean in.

I confess, my mind simultaneously splits in two directions: how does a woman get up and talk in such a time of sorrow and why did she bring her purse? She sets the purse down next to the lectern and I set my questions aside.

It is my first true look at her. Grief is etched on her face and something else, which I have yet to name. She thanks us for coming. She speaks of her son. She speaks of her prayer closet where she bows her head as she works on behalf of others.

Then moving to her purse, she pulls out a heart-shaped metal tin the size of a dinner plate. One of my questions answered. A gentle shake of the tin and the microphone magnifies the sound of contents moving around with the names of those she prays for on a daily basis.

She opens the lid, and asks us to be her witnesses, as she removes the card bearing the name of her son. She will leave it at the church, she explains, because now his life is complete in Christ Jesus.

Her prayer work for her beloved son is finished.

It is finished.

I am stilled by the magnitude of that thought.

And then, an astonishing remark, "It is time to make room in the prayer box for others who need prayers.

Her son's time on this earth is complete. Hers is not. She understands and she makes sure we understand, as well. While we still live and breathe and walk this earth, there is more life to be lived and more work to be done.

There is more work to be done.

No wonder I couldn't identify that other quality I observed in her is a mixture of strength, courage, love, wisdom, hope, and perseverance all wrapped in the assurance of Faith.

Her faith calls out to our faith. My spirit responds to the call.

There is more work to be done.

Lord, thank You for this woman of faith who gave such a powerful testimony, yesterday. May You continue to surround her and her family with comfort, and strength, and healing as they grieve the loss and celebrate the life of their loved one.

May we keep our eyes on You as we live out this day. Show us the work You have prepared for our hands that we, too, might move in obedience and bring You glory. Thank You, Jesus, for the gift of our salvation. We love You. In Your mighty name we pray, Amen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Want You

"Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you." - 2 Corinthians 12:14

Two different friends asked for prayer today. In both situations, the Lord led me to 2 Corinthians 12:14. Paul is speaking to the people of Corinth, assuring them of his intentions.

don't want what you have; I want you.

Is that not God's heart cry to all of His beloved?

I want you.

Three words that speak volumes. Three words that reassure us that we are His focus...not what we have, not what we do, not what we think...but us.

With God relationship is everything.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Entertaining Angels

"In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple He heard my voice;
my cry came before Him, into His ears."--Psalm 18:6 (NIV)

The small chapel, located on the top of the cruise ship, was warm with filtered sunlight. I sat next to a family member and listened, as she poured out a heart heavy with grief and anger. Before long, the air was thick with the suffocating combination of heavy emotions and tropical heat.

My words of comfort fell on ears, too wounded to hear. The situation was on a downward spiral and I didn't know what to do.

Lord, help!

Moments later, the chapel door opened. An elderly woman slowly shuffled in, barging headfirst into what was, clearly, an emotional and private moment. She apologized even as she continued heading for the front of the room, all the while maintaining a running dialogue...

"Am I interrupting? I'm sorry I just had to come here. I'm 80+ years old. I've had cancer in my arm. See how it is all swollen up? God has seen me through. I didn't even know if I was going to be able to go on this cruise. I just had to come up here and sing. I've had other health issues. I shouldn't even be alive, right now, but I am. I just needed to come up here and sing a song to God. He is so good, isn't He? Sometimes you just have to sing, don't you?"

At which point, she stood behind the lectern, hung on for dear life, and began belting out an old hymn of praise and faith that completely captivated me and the one I sat alongside. One verse after another, her voice was sure and strong as she sang of God's love and goodness. Unabashed joy and love were all over her face. I sat and wept at the beauty of her faith, my companion in tears, as well. It was an incredible moment of worship for all of us.

When her song was over, we thanked her for sharing her story and her song with us. Picking up her monologue, right where she had left off, she shuffled for the door. Her voice was cut off as the swinging door closed behind her.

Both of us smiling, we sat in stunned, delighted silence. The air in the room was cool and fresh, as if a strong wind had blown through and cleaned house. Half-kidding, half-serious, my companion offered up a thought,

"Surely she was an angel. I wouldn't be surprised if she never shows up anywhere else on this boat."

Neither one of us ever saw her again.

"Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!" --Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Car Seats

"Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge,
a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to Him
for God is our refuge."
--Psalm 62:5-8

Four days without feasting on Your Word.

Four days without writing any of it down.

Not because there hasn't been time...

but because I made the choice
not to spend time with You.

In those four days...
my spirit has lost its balance,
my vision has lost its focus,
my prayers have dried up,
my dreams are disturbed.

I have forgotten the sound of Your whisper.

Forgive me, Lord, I pray.
Life without You is not worth living.

And yet even as I long for Your Presence another part of me resists being still.

It reminds me of those times when my children were small and refused to be strapped into their carseats. I was always amazed at their show of strength and dismayed when I had to physically restrain them against their will. In those moments, it was not possible to reason with my children. The choice was to forcibly bodymold them into compliance or not go. With three small children and a limited amount of patience, I became an expert at bodymolding.

As much as I am embarrassed to admit it, I am in a similar place with God. The car is ready for the journey yet I refuse to get in. God will not strap me into the seat against my will. He waits for me to yield my will to His.

He waits.

For me.

Again, and again, and again.

I am ashamed to think of how much time I have wasted, over the course of my life, by not getting in the car.

For this day, I make the decision to ride with Him.

It's going to be a good day.

Just one request:

Can we ride with the top down?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Peter swore, "A curse on me if I'm lying -- I don't know this man you're talking about!" And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.

Suddenly, Jesus' words flashed through Peters' mind: "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me." And he broke down and wept. -- Mark 14:71-72

It is a part of our faith journey -- denying the One we love.

Peter had been told in advance that it would happen yet he couldn't imagine ever doing such a thing. Like Peter, do I naively think that my love for Jesus is enough to keep me from denying Him? The answer is yes far more often than I would like to admit.

Am I living in such a way that there is room for the Holy Spirit to speak course-correcting words of direction and truth into my life?

And when I do hear His whisper convicting me of my waywardness, what is my response?

Am I brokenhearted, like Peter? (v. 72)
Or do I, like Judas Iscariot, pretend all is well by greeting Him with a kiss? (Mark 14:45)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No Apology Needed

"So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." Genesis 32:24-26

We must never apologize for asking a question of someone that causes them to wrestle with the Father for the answer. For that matter, we shouldn't expect an apology if we are on the receiving end of such a question.

You know the kind of question I'm talking about. It is the type that forces us to contend with a plan that wasn't of our choosing. Or it is the one that turns us inside out; forcing us to consider our lives from a different perspective. Or maybe it is the kind that causes us discomfort as it brings about a crisis-of-faith. Regardless, these questions tend to send us scrambling to God's Word for help and down to our knees in desperate to hear from God that we boldly declare we will not quit petitioning Him until He speaks.

I've had a few of those questions posed to me this summer. Because of them, I've spent quite a bit of time in the Throne Room wrestling with the Almighty. Even though I'm sporting some new bumps and bruises, it was worth it. One of those questions has given me the opportunity to see where my words of faith and my walk of faith don't quite match up and has allowed me to make course corrections. Another question has been an opportunity to stretch my faith and step into ministry. While yet another has been a test where the only right answer was, "no."

Each question has forced me into a closer relationship with my God. The results have been a purifying of my faith and a blessing from God, Himself.

Why would anyone need to apologize for that?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dear God

Dear God,

It has come to my attention that whenever You ask me to consider something that I don't understand...or that is anxiety producing (big picture)...or something that I would like to happen but I'm afraid of hoping for it and then being disappointed if it doesn't...I just shut down. I close myself off from You because I don't want to look at it.

It doesn't occur to me to say, "I don't like the way this makes me feel...but I'm just going to sit with it and You...and wait for You to speak to me about it. I'm going to open myself to the possibility that if You want me to be a part of this, then You will give me the courage to face my fears."

It is more like I am saying, "I don't like how this makes me feel so I'm going to tuck it away and You'll have to bring it up, again later, if You want me to seriously consider it.

God, You know this about me. I tend to push You aside whenever I don't understand what You are doing or saying.

Where is my faith?
There isn't any maturity in this approach.

It is time for me to grow.

Lord, give me the courage to look at Your bigger plan even though it is beyond my comprehension and requires me to grow in uncomfortable ways. Help me to remember You are trustworthy. I don't want my faith to be a reflection of my own inadequacies. I want my faith to reflect who You are...

"For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies."
-- Psalm 57:10