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Archive for August, 2011


When we pray, it seems more often to a God who is distant, passive, and silent, rather than to one who is close, active, and speaking. Yet in reality He is so much closer than we usually consider.

Why is it that He feels so much nearer and realer during trials? I think it’s because we feel the need for Him deeper, and we seek Him more desperately, so we see Him more readily. We reach out for Him like we’d reach for a hand while we’re sinking in quicksand. We hang on for life to every word that He says. We have no other option.

God is ever speaking, ever present. It is we who are far too silent. Too distant. He is everywhere, in everything. His Word is heard by the angels of heaven, the demons of hell, and the men of earth. He speaks a thousand dialects. He speaks English. And He speaks our heart’s tongue. Yet His language is not limited to letters. His voice is the whisper of the wind and the roar of a waterfall. His voice is your pastor’s sermon and your friend’s encouragement. His voice is your generous thought or your inclination to forgive again.

His words are engraved in the design of the snowflake and written in the stars of the Milky Way. He speaks through the atom as loudly as He speaks through the atmosphere.

He speaks through His Word, His world, His works, His wonders. Through laughter, heartache, life, and death. Through every emotion, every sense. When we learn to listen, we will know that we are never alone and that He is not distant afterall, not silent at all.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:1-3

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Homesick

You say you feel numb, even nothing. But I know you feel something. I know that past the blank stare fear is there. But you don’t have to be scared. Because you’re not the only one who cares. You’re not the only one.

When you could swear you don’t have a prayer, I know you’ve got something to say. I know it’s not that you don’t have the words, but that you can’t bear to cry and still feel unheard. To plead, unanswered. To bleed, unseen. The words weigh so heavy that if no one is there to catch them, they might just fall through the ground and pull you further down. And you can’t risk screaming as you drown while no one hears a sound.

So you settle for less than your needs being met. And you sit in silence, but you’re holding your breath. Willing this existence to be enough. Pushing yourself to stay tough. Hoping someday you won’t feel so much. But it’s like telling yourself you don’t need oxygen. Soon enough you must open your mouth again, and breathe life in. Soon enough you must open your mouth, and cry out.

Maybe it feels like a curse, but it’s a gift. And every disappointment leads us to confess there’s more than this. Every desire causes us to look higher.

And maybe what we need most is to know in our breaking that Jesus is no stranger to our condition. That God knows what it is to be human like we know what it means to be hungry. He remembers we are but dust. He knows we are desperate for love. The Man of Sorrows empathizes with our deepest grief and disappointment. He cares when we’re feeling scared and He’s there when we’re feeling alone. Because He remembers the Garden where there must have been flowers but all He could smell was death. And upon the cross the sun did shine but He could see no light. He recalls what it feels like to hold His breath, uncertain if He could breathe in again. And for our sake, He didn’t.

But He remembers so much more than the pain. He remembers conquering the grave and the names and faces of those He saved. And the victory was not His alone, but we can claim it as our own. Our flesh may be enduring certain death but our spirits are learning how to breathe. So don’t hold back the tears. Pain may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Though many are the tears that fall as we mourn, those we cry out of joy will be a thousand more.

Though for a little while you may feel all by yourself, don’t forget that you have ever-present help. One word from His lips and a thousand fears are stilled. One touch from His hand is deliverance. One whisper of His name and the heart is safe. One moment of His grace and the soul is saved. Forever, and always.

We are all just homesick. And we all just miss Him. Yet we will be with Him. Forever, and always.

‘Trust in him at all times..;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge (our home).’
(Psalm 62:8)

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Pieces


Maybe you used to feel as if you were an A and sometimes B student in life. You were a good kid, a dedicated employee, a nice person, a reliable friend, a teacher’s pet. You knew you weren’t perfect, but you were ok. Good enough to get by. You were always a little late, but still made it in time.

Until all of the sudden life’s tests got more intense. Your parents got harder to honor. Your boss wasn’t so easy to please. Your friends became tough to love. And your kindness just wasn’t enough. So instead of the A’s and B’s you began to see C’s and D’s.

Though the tests were tough, you knew it was part of growing up. But you weren’t giving up. So you studied longer. You worked harder. And you felt stronger. But you fell further. The more you tried, the less you thrived. Over time it was difficult just to survive. And at the end of the day, you had yourself to blame.

And now in the moments you’re really honest, you would admit that your life is a mess. And you fight the inner whisper that you’re too broken to fix. The things that once held you together now have you feeling scattered. What used to bring significance says you don’t really matter. The truth is that you do, but deep inside you’re shattered. The truth… if only you could believe it, but your pride is in pieces.

But maybe there’s something more real than how you feel. Maybe there’s security in something you can’t see. Maybe truth goes deeper than what you believe. And maybe the point of all these tests is not merely that you pass them, but that you see life past them.

In letting go you just might come to understand that your life was never in your hands. That acceptance doesn’t depend on your performance. That you don’t have to be enough to be loved. That in the end it is better to get God’s grace than good grades.

Being loved is better than being enough. Being broken and known is better than being tough and alone. Your life may feel like your stage. But after the show is over, He’s still behind the scenes waiting to take you home.

Jesus didn’t die for people who are fine. He didn’t bleed for people with no need. He came to save ones like me and you who are dying and crying out for rescue. Your life is more than what you’ve done or failed to do. You are more loved than you are lost, and the proof is found in the cross. And soon enough, His nail-pierced hands will piece you back together again.

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Just passing through

How many of us who are even in the household of God feel as if we do not belong? We hold positions, we have relationships, we own possessions, but to some certain degree we know we are not home. That this life is not for good.

We may not be home, but we are not alone. The saints of the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) not only all lived in faith, but “all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (11:13).

ex·ile   [eg-zahyl, ek-sahyl]

noun
1.expulsion from one’s native land by authoritative decree.
2.the fact or state of such expulsion: to live in exile.
3.a person banished from his or her native land.
4.prolonged separation from one’s country or home, as by force of circumstances: wartime exile.
5.anyone separated from his or her country or home voluntarily or by force of circumstances.

I think the 4th definition best describes us. Although it can feel like bad news day after day, battle after battle, truly it is good news for us! Though we are exiles here, in truth “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). Though we are strangers here, we are citizens of God’s city.

Just like the Israelites who had to pass through the desert to reach the promised land, so we are passing through into the promised land too.

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my ‘Psalm’ song

Promises

There’s a cry inside
That only you can hear
And I don’t know why

I can’t see the light
Or how to make it through
But I do know you
You are faithful and true

Chorus:
So come Jesus I am crying out for love
Draw near and remind me now
I don’t need answers like your presence
And I can stand firm on your promises

There’s a hope I know
Whenever you are near
That I can’t explain

And I can’t live without
This favor I have found
No matter what I do
You are faithful and true

Chorus

You never fail, never
You never fail, never
Faithful and true you are forever
Faithful and true you are forever

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Throughout life, we go from being under one authority to another, and usually we are under multiple authorities at a time, from parents to bosses to leaders. These authorities have more power and therefore more responsibility to build us up. But what if, instead of building us up, they are breaking us down?

David found himself in this position to the greatest degree as King Saul sought to destroy his life. I am fascinated every time I read 1 and 2 Samuel because King Saul has the world on his side, yet David has heaven on his.

David was deeply torn because he once enjoyed peaceful fellowship with King Saul, who was not only the Lord’s anointed and chosen king, but like a father to David. David never lost his respect for the king. He remained loyal to him even while King Saul sought his life. David was forced into a cave physically and also emotionally. He cried out to God for deliverance from the depths of the earth and from the depths of his soul. He suffered isolation, anguish, and dread. He knew without God he was as good as dead.

David had more than one chance to kill King Saul and save himself, but he trusted God’s way to be higher than his own. The death of the king did not mean life to him; God meant life to him. And all David really wanted concerning King Saul was reconciliation. He protected himself and stood up for his innocence, but he would not harm King Saul. He trusted God to bring him down in His time, and in His time God did. Still David did not rejoice, even though the throne was now his and his life was no longer in danger; he mourned and wept for King Saul. He grieved.

David’s heart was a beautiful foreshadow of Jesus, who cried out for our world as we nailed Him to the cross, “Father, forgive them…”

David learned to find his ultimate security in God. When his earthly authority was breaking him down instead of building him up, he entrusted himself to the highest Authority. And in His time, God brought Saul down and lifted King David up to the throne.

Maybe we don’t have a king seeking to destroy our physical lives, but we can have poor parents and bosses and even leaders who break us down rather than build us up. (And sometimes it’s not what they are doing, but what they are not doing – affirming, encouraging, caring, etc). But I am learning that our authorities do not have as much power over our lives as we (and they) may think. And we need not fight with the weapons of the world or our flesh, because God is fighting for us.

I encourage you to read Samuel and the Psalms, specifically chapters 52, 54, 55, 56, and 59. David wrote those prayers while hiding and running for his life. And we can pray through them knowing that the God David knew is the same God we know, “an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). And He is our ultimate authority and security, our King of kings and Lord of lords.

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