Monday, December 12, 2011

The Audacity of Flash Mobs

How many times in life do I *know* but don't do? More than I'd care to admit. I've been in a weird tough painful growing? time in my life, and this is one I would do without if I was the author of my story (or the conductor of my song)... but every single one of us goes through things we don't want to. Life gives us what we don't want or doesn't give us what we do want, or things seem to be going well, and then WHAM, our hears are broken and we feel like all our insides are on our outsides and everything hurts and nothing is as it seems it should be and there's nothing that can be done but to

walking -

keep putting one foot in front of the other, standing on what we know is true, and refusing to give up.

I've been watching Christmas flash mobs on youtube. I must be a complete sap, because they make me cry every time I view one. My favorites are the ones where people are at the mall, perhaps in a food court, and one person has the audacity to stand up and begin to sing. Loudly. People walk by, stare, or look at said individual as if he/she is CRAZY. Some watch in joy and wonder; some are completely confused. Others walk by, barely taking notice, yet those do who stop to take it all in and allow themselves to soak in that moment - the beauty of voices lifted together - experience the oneness of voice and soul. By the end, most people smile with new found joy and clap with gratitude for that little piece of *something* they were unexpectedly inundated with.

And then I think of Jesus, fully divine in all His glory, emptying Himself of those divine attributes and having the audacity to be born here, into His own creation, wrecked by sin and evil and death, coming completely helpless and dependent upon His earthly family to care for Him. He had the audacity to come, wrapped in fragile, mortal flesh and live a perfect, sinless life and become the sacrifice for my sin. I wonder, is God pleased when people gather in a mall, sing praises to His name, and proclaim the truth of His son's birth? Does their boldness delight Him? He sent Jesus to this dark world as a light to love and give His life as a ransom for us. It pleased Him. He delighted in it. This leads me to believe He delights in these flash mobs the way He delights in giving good gifts to us. He delights in mercy, love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, strength under control, boldness to proclaim His truth, and also the audacity to


in this dark world. Sacrificially. Costly. All in, no holds barred, love. It blows my mind that He came down to this dirty, messed up, evil world and inundated it with life, love, forgiveness, and truth, knowing full well He would be met with rejection, gossip, hate, betrayal, selfish people, religious persecution and ultimately a torturous death. He came to pay the price for our debt - knowing full well some would reject that, too. How many people ignore Him, walk by and busy themselves with all kinds of nothing just to keep from stopping and taking a moment to let it all in - the audacity of Christ's love - the divine meeting humanity in the humblest of ways - born to poor, scandalous parents in a borrowed barn? I pray those who know Him will live our lives as beautifully and boldly as the people in those flash mobs. I pray people will see the divine come to them and let the moment wash over their hearts and let Jesus in. I will never understand all it cost Him. But I know I'm not alone, even when it feels like it. He is the conductor of the orchestra of our lives. So I will listen and follow Him and


I love the end of this one:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Schooled by My Daughter

Psalm 27

A Psalm of David.
 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
         Whom shall I fear?
         The LORD is the strength of my life;
         Of whom shall I be afraid?
 2 When the wicked came against me
         To eat up my flesh,
         My enemies and foes,
         They stumbled and fell.
 3 Though an army may encamp against me,
         My heart shall not fear;
         Though war may rise against me,
         In this I will be confident.       
 4 One thing I have desired of the LORD,
         That will I seek:
         That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
         All the days of my life,
         To behold the beauty of the LORD,
         And to inquire in His temple.
 5 For in the time of trouble
         He shall hide me in His pavilion;
         In the secret place of His tabernacle
         He shall hide me;
         He shall set me high upon a rock. 
 6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
         Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
         I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
 7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!
         Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
 8 When You said, “Seek My face,”
         My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
 9 Do not hide Your face from me;
         Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
         You have been my help;
         Do not leave me nor forsake me,
         O God of my salvation.
 10 When my father and my mother forsake me,
         Then the LORD will take care of me.
 11 Teach me Your way, O LORD,
         And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
 12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
         For false witnesses have risen against me,
         And such as breathe out violence.
 13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
         That I would see the goodness of the LORD
         In the land of the living.         
 14 Wait on the LORD;
         Be of good courage,
         And He shall strengthen your heart;
         Wait, I say, on the LORD!

My daughter loves to read and learn from the Bible.  This morning she read this Psalm to us, and if she only knew how appropriate it was for me today!  I love how God uses His innocent little ones to speak to us. 

I asked her, "Do you know what waiters do?" wanting to explain to her that "waiting on the Lord" is not passive but active.

"Take orders?" came her reply.

"Um...yes!" (Duh.  It takes a child, right?)...I had thought I was going to teach her, but she ended up schooling me without even knowing it (good morning, Holy Spirit!)  Taking orders is what waiters do. How very simple.  Yet how often do we want to give orders instead of take them?  What kind of waiter does this make?  What if said waiter takes an order and then gets sidetracked or just plain decides not to serve his customers?  Ridiculous, no? How much more then as Christ's servants are we to obey what God has revealed to us?  Isn't this what "waiting on the Lord" should look like in our lives?

Going to His table, listening and receiving His orders, and then walking them out in humble service to Him is the waiting David was speaking of.  When we do this, our hearts will be strengthened whether or not people or circumstances are against us, this Psalm assures us.  Even when we hurt or are being attacked, we don't have to experience fear and anxiety. We can have peace.   We can know that He will never leave us or forsake us.  As we truly "wait" on Him, He gives us protection and rest, strength and boldness.  As we seek to touch His face, we get to see and perceive His goodness.  We can know which way to go in our journeys as we draw close to and learn from Him.  We can trust in His timing and His justice.

Clark's Commentary on the Bible says this:
"I had fainted, unless I had believed" - The words in italics are supplied by our translators; but, far from being necessary, they injure the sense. Throw out the words I had fainted, and leave a break after the verse, and the elegant figure of the psalmist will be preserved: "Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" - What! what, alas! should have become of me!

How very true.  Without faith in Him, what should have become of me!  Instead, today, my heart is happy dancing.  Today, I see His beauty and goodness because He is faithful and merciful.  Today, I can serve Him with joy in my heart and sing songs of praise because of who He is!  Today, I can see His beauty.  All from a Psalm and the faith of a child.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Friendship of Pain

I once saw a t-shirt that read, "Pain is weakness leaving the body."  I don't know if it was a marine, an athlete or just someone at the gym who wore it, but the thought intrigued me.  "Yea, that's true," I pondered. 

Except when it's not.  Sometimes pain is weakness leaving the body, and sometimes it's your femur bone being snapped in half!  (Thank you, Brian Regan.)  Sometimes it means being pushed to your ultimate limit resulting in growth and sometimes it means cruel and permanent damage…which leads me to yesterday morning's teaching about friendship.  We read from 2 Samuel chapter 15 which tells of Absalom's (David's son's) betrayal of his father, and the loyalty of David's friends.

By the way, may I just pause here and *thank* God for not whitewashing people's lives in His word?  God chose to tell His story through real people with messy lives who loved God imperfectly.  I say this because I relate to real people who don't give me whitewashed versions of themselves.  It's those persons of integrity from whom I can receive wisdom, encouragement, and, yes, correction. David, who was called a man after God's own heart, grievously sinned by taking many wives, including Bathsheba, with whom he had already committed adultery, impregnated, and subsequently had her husband murdered in battle. (Extremely messy, yes?)  For those who say God winks at sin, though,  I say keep reading.  Yes, David was forgiven, but he had the dire consequences of his sin to live with for the rest of his life - including the death of his son and the inability to properly discipline his remaining sons.   

So back to pain.  And friendship.  Why is it these two words are related?  Our pastor said something at the end of his teaching Sunday that struck a painful chord in my heart. He said sometimes those friends we share our lives with will pull out your heart and stomp on it.


On one hand you have friends you become closer with through pain, and on the other hand you have friends who cause it.  Friendship and pain, hand in hand, closer than I ever expected those two words to be.

So what's the lesson?  What's the point?  Through this last year there have been many times I wanted to crawl up, disappear, and just...quitYet, since quitting is not a valid option, my next choice was to allow a wall to form to keep people at a distance and protect myself from getting hurt again.  The truth is…although I tried for awhile, I couldn't continue doing that either, because it would really just be another form of quitting, and besides, we need each other.  It's true, people are often messy and flaky, and can be ugly, mean, and/or downright cruel.   But people can also be kind, beautiful, humble, and encouraging.  Jesus loved in a way that cost Him.  Who am I if I am unwilling to even be open to making new friends?  He was God wrapped in flesh, yet He chose to keep company with a group of self centered, slow to understand, stinky sinners (including me.)

There have been people this past year I can't even think about.  The pain of loss just cuts too deeply.  On Sunday morning, while "kitchening" (it's my own word; with a family of 5, I spend a lot of time in our kitchen cooking, cleaning, etc. so indulge me,) my thoughts turned to some of the people who have, for all intensive purposes, shunned us... I thought about their sweet babies, some in heaven, some probably crawling around by now, who we prayed for through their entire pregnancies, dear, sweet people - I thought about the people whose little ones I would love to see grow up into not so little and then big people, the same people who chose to cut us out of their lives entirely - I was able to pray for them and feel the pain instead of pushing it away.  I was able to give it to Jesus and let His healing wash over me.  Jesus, the Lover of my soul, the One Who will never leave us or forsake us.  The One who knows more betrayal than I can ever fathom. And so now I thank God for my friends, like David's, who, though an entire kingdom seemed to be turned against him,  would not leave him, even to save themselves.  They are the friends I want to be like.  Friendship like that is rare, even within the body of Christ.  I am extremely grateful for my dear, precious friends and family who have loved us through this hard life season, giving us encouragement along the way.  I am also thankful for the sweet and humble new friends He has brought into our life this past year.  But do you want to know something else?  I am even grateful for the people I thought were my friends who ended up smashing my heart.  Because I know God deeper now.  I have experienced His great faithfulness!  I have lived in His grace and mercy.  I get to forgive.  I get to grow.  And I get to know God's strength through my own weakness.   Because without Him, my smashed up heart would have been cracked in half like a femur with no one to set it, causing crippling and death in my heart and life permanently.  Not to say I never limped, or bled. There's been more of that than I would have chosen to experience.  I wish healing could always be instantaneous but often it's not; He sets us in place and lets us walk it all out.  And that's okay.  His way is better.

Christians are called "the Body of Christ." 

I Corinthians 12:18 adds, "But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased."  Funny thing - yesterday as I drove my kids to do errands, we listened to a bible teacher on the radio who expounded on the word "set" in this verse. It's an orthopedic term.  God took broken people, and "set" us in His body.  We are made whole only in Him, yet He's chosen to put us together with other believers for our own (and each other's) health and growth.  "As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend," Proverbs 27:17.

Maybe pain isn't weakness leaving the body.  Maybe pain is one of our friends.

*It's been a few years since I wrote this. I am eternally grateful for the lessons I have learned through the experiences which prompted this post. I shared with my husband one day, "Maybe we can only truly serve the body sacrificially until we've been wounded by the body."  Just a thought.  Either way, I wouldn't change what we've been through. God has used it all as only He can. He has given us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. We are blessed to encourage others with the comfort and encouragement the Holy Spirit has comforted and encouraged us with.  We are humbled every day that He has called us faithful and made us His own. If you are going through a church hurt, press into Jesus.  Lean into what He's doing. He will make it into something beautiful.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Warning: Woman with Uninterrupted Thoughts Ahead

Well, I had to edit this because, frankly, my thoughts are often interrupted.  A family of five with three school aged children and an almost 16 years of marriage keeps me busy and interrupted almost constantly, which is fine.  One day, my kids will be grown and have lives and families of their own; these times are as precious as they are trying - probably much moreso! :-)  These are my often interrupted thoughts on life and walking with Jesus.  Sitting down to write helps me process the things in my heart and mind.  I hope you find something here that helps you along your way.