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Archive for the ‘August 2010’ Category


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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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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Just Wondering

I’m just wondering about the verse, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

While there was absolutely no selfish reason for it, You loved me because that is just who You are. Though I had nothing to offer, You gave everything to gain me. I was shameful. I was filthy. But You took it upon Yourself to purchase white robes for me with Your own blood. I was dust. But when You looked at me You saw what You could do for me. You’ve loved me like no other. I am not worthy to inhabit one of Your imaginations, because they are so much higher than I am, yet Your thoughts of me outnumber the innumerable grains of sand.

I am so used to knowing love as human, or conditional. But the way You define love is so radical that every day I am simply amazed. Flabbergasted. Because of Your own divine nature You have served me. Even when I am so demonically proud to think that I for a second deserve Your holy hands to touch my dirty feet, You are faithful to Your transcendent character and humble Yourself to wash them. I won’t ever understand, but I will be forever grateful.

Even giving You my natural best is like offering You filthy rags, yet because You have worked righteousness in me by Your own effort my prayers are a sweet incense to You. Because of Your Spirit in me, You are able to delight in me. You adopted this orphan and now You favor me as Your own daughter, and You are making me fit for Your kingdom from the inside out. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Ps. 107:1).

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Susan

Susan is probably the youngest patient (40 or so?) at St. Francis Care facility. She uses a walker and wears huge, thick glasses. She’s becoming my favorite because she talks so much and is extremely open about her past. As a young teenager she was molested countless times by her father, but she couldn’t bring herself to tell her mother until after he had died. Her mother responded with anger instead of compassion. Around that time, since she was about 15, Susan began hearing voices and seeing things that weren’t there. She told me this the first time we met, but had to stop talking about it because she was scared to be spiritually attacked again. Talk about spiritual warfare… so I prayed with her and tried to speak comforting Scriptures over her.

Later on I visited her with my friend Leah Westlund. Susan said someone had recently stolen her Bible, so Leah gave her the spare Bible she happened to bring. Susan has apparently received the gospel and I believe she is a Christian. But she still struggles with “outbursts” when she feels like the devil is present and God has left her…

Well yesterday she was experiencing such an attack when I visited the facility with some friends. She began crying and stuttering while explaining her experience. She felt like God hated her for talking so much and for being unable to attend church, and she worries that everyone she loves will eventually abandon her- even the Lord. It’s so hard to see someone be tormented like that, but I knew God sent us at a perfect time to minister to her.

We listened. We told her that God was her best friend forever and that even if others leave her, He will be with her always. We read 2nd Samuel 22 and told her that God would always rescue her from her enemies. And we read the accounts of Jesus casting out demons and assured her that He is much greater than them, and that He will fight for her. Whenever we would say something like, “God loves you” or “God delights in you” she would ask us, “You love me too, right?” and “You delight in me too, right?” And it was so good to not only share God’s heart with her, but our own.

I think she encouraged us as much as we encouraged her. After talking and praying with her, she was calm and happy again. The Lord had delivered her. Little did she know that she wasn’t the only one He had ministered to in those 45 minutes.  🙂

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Personal Ministries

I cherish http://christianaudio.com/ because it has so enhanced my personal library via my Ipod (thanks Malachi). Every month a free Christian audio book is offered, and so far the books have convicted, encouraged, and challenged me so so so much.

I am currently listening to “Ministries of Mercy” by Tim Keller (which is available until the end of August) and after hearing the intro and the 1st chapter I could already write a ton! But I will limit myself to a couple good points.

First, every Christian should have a personal ministry. What specific people and programs am I regularly pouring into as the Lord daily pours Himself into me? How am I sharing the love, grace, mercy, blessings, and gifts that I am freely receiving from the Lord?

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant,overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)

Second, we should be merciful ministers to others not to deserve mercy (which has already been freely given to us in Christ), but to demonstrate God’s mercy for them.

Here’s a helpful parable from the book in case you love them as much as I do! There is a wealthy women with no children, but she has one very kind nephew. How can she tell if he is nice for selfish reasons or if he is truly merciful in character but to test him by disguising herself as a beggar outside of his house. If he neglects and curses her, or if he is moved to act out of compassion for her, his heart will be revealed. How will Jesus expose our hearts unless He does the same?

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matt. 25:40)

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Even Me

It’s always confused me how we can be so quick to have faith that God will come through for others, but not for ourselves. We know about how God worked for Noah and Moses and Joseph and Ruth and David and so many more, and we see Him working all around us. But when it comes to Him working for, in, and through us, we daily question Him. I wonder how many people read the Bible as if it were written for someone else. How many of us think God has worked in someone’s life because of who they were, not who He is?

Today I was simply reminded that God has no favorites. He has created everyone equal, and loves us all the same. He died for you as surely as He died for me. His promises are as true for me as they are for you. Whatever He has done in another’s life should only lead to greater faith in what He can do in my life.

Often times, however, when God blesses those around us we become jealous and insecure that we will never be so blessed. Why? Can God’s resources be exhausted? Can He, our perfect Father, remember one child but forget another? Today I have faith that He responds, Take heart, dear children, and “Come, all you who are thirsty…” (Is. 55:1).

Even me… 🙂

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Cinderella Feet

One of my best friends, Jessica, is getting married tomorrow. She has been going out with Kevin for… 9 years now? Don’t ask me how because I have yet to be in a serious relationship, but they have always inspired me. I love how generous, open, and fun they are – and cute when they match or fight about who started wearing a certain color first… 🙂 What I love most is how they so effectively reach out to others and naturally bring people together. I went out to dinner with them and somehow felt like I was the center of their attention instead of a third wheel.  I always tell them they are top on my list for a double date!

Jessica alone makes me want to be a better friend. She simply loves people. She is always concerned with whether everyone feels welcome and invited. And lately she has proven to be one of the most gracious friends I have. I’ve always felt lucky to know her, in truth. She’s talkative, kind, funny, forgiving, caring, creative, servant-hearted and deeply devoted to developing a Christlike character. And I love her style! Too bad she’s petite with Cinderella feet compared to me or I’d be all about raiding her closet 😉 You can only be made better by knowing her.

This is the passage I will be so honored to read at her wedding,

Revelation 19:

6Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

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