Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More Grace

But He giveth more grace… (James 4:6)

He is never tired of giving more, so we need never fear to ask. He is ready; He delights to give; He gives more…What do you want today? Patience? He giveth more. Love? He giveth more. Strength? He giveth more. (Amy Carmichael)

Whatever it is, "He giveth more". More than we think we need. More than we can think to ask. More than the impossible amount we think necessary. He giveth more…and more is always more than enough.

Thank you, Father that you always give more, that we can never overextend your grace or reach the end of it, that whatever you call us to do...whatever is good and right and righteous in any situation we find ourselves in, you give MORE grace than is required to honor you and obey. Give us more grace, now, to take hold of what you offer and do what you command, always. Amen!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Moving day approaches

A little over 4 years ago, I moved out on my own for the first time. I'd been living apart from my parents for a quite a while but had never had my own place. It was July 2002, to be exact and a lot was going on. I was going to be living by myself for the first time in my life, I was leaving a job I'd been at since graduating from college, a few months earlier I changed churches and prior to that I lost my Grandfather, my dog and my Pastor all within a couple of months of each other. But I was excited about the newness (at least at first) and at the prospect of setting up house...not just making due with someone else's place and stuff and tastes.

In two days, my stuff and tastes will be taking a backseat as I move in with a friend from church. My flesh is already screaming. I wonder where I am going to put all of my things. I wonder if I am really going to be able to make our shared space a home. I wonder how comfortable I will feel there and how well my friend and I will get along as roomies. I wonder how on earth I am going to get everything packed and moved in two days. I wonder if any of the men in my life will step up to help me get my furniture and appliances downstairs and into a truck. I wonder how on earth I accumulated so many things that I just can't seem to part with. I wonder if the next time I move, I'll be doing it alone again.

As I've been packing, and trying (in vain it seems) to find guys able to help with the heavy lifting, I've been feeling very, VERY single. It's difficult to explain to someone who isn't single and above the age of 25...but that is the feeling. Very single. Very alone. Very much without men in my life.

My life, it would seem is comprised of me and a bunch of boxes that I have to cart around every few years. Boxes of things that really only mean something to me, brought to places that will something short of an actual home.

At least that is how it feels sometimes. I know that is not the reality...and certainly not where I need to allow my heart and mind to dwell...but it is there and it is noisy sometimes. But then there is always that moment when noise diminishes and His word breaks through and there is peace.

When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? (Job 34:29)

The only thing that can break the quietness and peace He gives, honestly, is sin. In this case, the sin of putting my wants and preferences and desire for ease above what God is doing and calls good for me right now.

This road he has called me to walk, and even this next step, is not an easy one. It's not. I make no excuses about that. It is not easy to feel so much alone, to feel so disconnected no matter how much I attempt to connect my life to others, to fight the temptation to be perpetually disappointed because my life doesn't look the way it seems it should. But it is His portion for me and He if for me and only does good. I cannot begrudge what He has given...what He calls a gift...simply because I didn't register for it or the bow is the wrong color.

Where I am going is not going to be an easy place to live, either. The friend I am moving in with (though I love her dearly) is pretty much the antithesis for my personality. I am not so naive to think that SHE will be the only one sanctified, broken, wounded, changed and then healed in this deal. I fully expect to be challenged, shaken, sharpened, rubbed up against, and have my misplaced toes stepped on.

Sounds fun, don't it?


All joking aside...this is the reality of what I see, and what I have experienced at times in our friendship. I can only logically conclude that these things will magnify once we are living under the same roof. My knee-jerk reaction is RUUUUUUN! But, that is not a faith reaction and therefore would be the wrong one. God is at work in both of us, to will and to do according to His good pleasure...and He means this to be a gift for both of us. For a time, that gift may feel like I am wearing a Brillo Pad suit a lot...but it won't always.

And, if and when the Lord provides a husband, I have no doubt that the learning to live together part of our marriage will feel very much the same.

Regardless of reasons or implications or specific preparation, I know the Lord is in this. When it is just He and I in the vacuum of prayer, my heart is at rest and I am confident of His leading and also of His ability to work out all the details and make my Brillo Pad suit less itchy over time. So what does it matter how smoothly the move goes or how many men show up or how my flesh responds to differences and stress and adjustments? When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?

Though sorrows, heaviness, and faintings of heart ever so much increase; yet, if thy faith increase also, it will bear thee up in the midst of them. I would fain have it go well with thee, and that thou mightest not want the holy Counsellor and Adviser, in any strait or difficulty which the wise and tender God orders to befall thee.--ISAAC PENINGTON

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's about a Man...

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. (1 John 2:1-7)

Christianity is about a man. It is about the Man, Christ Jesus who was born, suffered and died for our sins and the sins of the world that we might be at peace with God, no longer enemies, but sons and daughters even as Christ is His Son. This is the gospel. This is the truth. But this Gospel, this truth isn't simply an idea that should mold and shape our thoughts, change our hearts and effect our behavior. It isn't simply something that points us in the direction of the best way to live life and be happy. It is about a Man. Any obedience, any change, any peace begins with a Man, is because of the promise of a Man, through the strength of a Man and for the sake of the Name of this man, Jesus.

...And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says "I know Him" but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him...

Christianity is about a Man. It is about knowing the Man, Christ Jesus. Knowing Him changes us and produces obedience to His commandments. Keeping His commandments teaches us more about Him and His character. Walking in habitual faithfulness allows us to know and love Him more. There is no knowing without obedience and there is no obedience without knowing.

... I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

There are many wonderful teachings out there on "living the life"...some very practical applications of biblical truth. But without purposing to do as Paul did and "know Christ and Him crucified" first and even to the exclusion of other things, if necessary we've simply subscribed to a set of rules and regulations...our faith is in a system, not in the Man who died to save us, who lives to interceed for us, who is our advocate with the Father and who loves us freely.

Oh, may we have fresh vision for knowing Him. May the Lord give us a clear revelation of our level of pursuit to know Christ and increase our desire for Him. May He bring us to a place where we feel we know Him far better than a doctrine or teaching or application. May He then take our theology and understanding and application and make them about knowing Christ, about becoming like Him, and about proclaiming His glory. Lord, make our faith and practice less and less about us and more and more about Your Son!

Friday, October 20, 2006


Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. --2 CORINTHIANS 4:17

ONLY be still, and wait His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate'er thy Father's pleasure,
And all-discerning love hath sent;
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own. --GEORG NEUMARK, 1657

OH, how is the face of life altered, as soon as a man has in earnest made his first object to do his Father's will! Oh, how do, what before seemed grievous burdens, bodily sickness, domestic trial, privations, losses, bereavement, the world's scorn, man's unthankfulness, or whatever grief his Father may put upon him, how do these things change! To those, whose hope is in heaven, everything becomes a means of discipline, an instrument of strengthening their cheerful acceptance of their Father's will. Their irksome tasks, privations, sickness, heaviness of heart, unkindness of others, and all the sorrows which their Father allots them in this world, are so many means of conforming them to their Saviour's image. Then doth everything which God doeth with them seem to them "very good," even because He doth it. --EDWARD B. PUSEY

everything which God doeth with them seem to them "very good," even because He doth it.

This week I've been thinking about the word "Amen." Thinking about what it means...

Amen: Hebrew, meaning 'let it be so'. It is a plea to God for a response to prayer, an affirmation of what will be done by God, a 'Yes' to God's vision, a statement of confidence in God, and even a celebration of what will come from God, even before God gives it. (http://www.spirithome.com/defamen.html)

I love that phrase "a 'yes' to God's vision." And at the same time I glory in the idea of that "yes" or better..."YES!" I am convicted by how often I don't give God's will the big "Amen!"

Too often I ask, "Lord why can't...how come...can't I just have...would you please allow...why does this have to be so hard?" I don't believe it is wrong to ask God "why?" and He tells us to carry our cares to Him...but the problem is that so often my "Why?" isn't about knowing His will and seeking His purposes, it is just me lamenting that my will is not being done.

To those, whose hope is in heaven, everything becomes a means of discipline, an instrument of strengthening their cheerful acceptance of their Father's will.

A cheerful acceptance...

Just let that sink in a minute...

Think of the last time you were disappointed...

Was your response "cheerful acceptance?" Did you look to God and speak a humble "Amen"?

I didn't. I had to grieve my loss and fuss and receive correction first. But why? Was it that I suddenly stopped believing God was good? Was it because God was, indeed, being unfair or unkind? Did God momentarily suspend His promise to sustain and comfort and provide for me?


He crushed His son for us. Anything else we need or ask is considerably less than what He has already done. Because He is good and He is love, we can know that He will give all that is needed and blessing besides. So, whatever He gives or takes, shouldn't we say "Amen"?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"...shall I not drink?"

I thought I’d be floored…devastated… inconsolable.

I wasn’t.

Yesterday, for the second time in two weeks my heart was broken (or at the very least, seriously wounded) and I didn’t die. Not only did I not die either time, but I haven't been any of the things that I thought I would be should merciful, immediate death not come. I 've not been hysterical or a sobbing, gorging basket case. I've been a bit sad, hurt, broken-hearted, emotional…I have cried and sometimes I've sobbed…but really, I'm ok. I'm functional. And I can see mercy in the heart-break and disappointment.

When I got the “2” of my 1-2 Punch yesterday, I simultaneously heard a verse from an old hymn I’d been listening to earlier in the week:

I saw him in the furnace,
he doubted not nor feared
And in the flames beside him
the Son of God appeared
Though seven times 'twas heated,
with all the tempters might
He said the yoke is easy,
the burden it is light!
(Blood-washed Pilgrim)

I’ve been feeling the heat lately. I feel like I am losing or being denied just about everything that is precious to me. Everything but Christ, that is. What this song spoke to my heart is that it is in the flames, when the fire is heated 7 times, that we see The Son of God…that we see Him so well that it is like He is physically right there beside us. Only then.

That thought reminds me of something my friend Elisabeth Elliot wrote:

Moonless Trust
He is not all we would ask for, but it s precisely when we do not have what we would ask for, and only then, that we can clearly perceive His all-sufficiency. It is when the sea is moonless that the Lord has become my light…it is an opportunity for proving Him to be indeed the El Shaddai “the God who is enough.”

The God who is enough. The God who is in the fire with us. The God who is the fire.

He is the fire I’m in. He designed it. He stokes it…not to be mean or to hurt me (though at times it really does hurt) but to purify me for His glory.

Everything that can stand the fire must go through the fire. –Numbers 31:23

I’m in the fire because He thinks I can stand it…not in my strength (because there is none of that) but in His. And in the fire, I can enter into the fellowship of His sufferings…and see the truth of my heart that more often than not I want so many things before I want Him. I could see this as punishment, but I think it is more like this:

...to cleanse An Upright heart of toxic stains With searing irons is not like chainsLaid on the soul in penalty For guile and crimes no one can see.… God is kind, In ways that will not fit your mind. (John Piper)

It is also another “Chance to Die” as Amy Carmichael would say. And we could all use more chances for that.

After I got the 2nd punch yesterday, my e-mail devotion that I usually get in the morning popped up, so I read it. It said the following:

Dying to Self
The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink? --JOHN 18:11

Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. --ROMANS 12:2

When we are fully delivered from the influence of selfish considerations, and have become conformed to the desires and purposes of the Infinite Mind, we shall drink the cup, and drink it cheerfully, whatever it may be. In a word, we shall necessarily be submissive and happy in all trials, and in every change and diversity of situation. Not because we are seeking happiness, or thinking of happiness, as a distinct object, but because the glorious will of Him whom our soul loves supremely, is accomplished in us. --THOMAS C. UPHAM

It couldn’t have been more fitting. For now this…these losses…fill the cup handed to me by God. Shall I not drink it? It is my portion. Shall I not take it? They are caused and allowed by a God who loves me, who has perfect plans for me, who crushed His son for me…shall I not thank Him for this, too?

I shall. “There is no try.”

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"...There is no try."

Do or do not. There is no try.--Yoda

Isn't it amazing just how current and real and personal the Lord is? Just this morning he used a randomly recalled quote from a movie I haven't seen in years, by a character I didn't even like very much to pierce my heart and change me.

Do or do not. There is no try.

Lately I've found myself saying "I'm fighting." or "I'm trying...to think or act or speak or respond as the Lord would have me." Really what I am saying is "I'm getting my butt kicked." "I'm failing." "I'm not trying hard enough." If I were really fighting...really determining to live what I know to be truth, to take my head knowledge of scripture, apply it to my heart and live it out, there would be no trying about it, I would only be talking about what I was doing. Now, this doing would be all of God-enabling and grace, but it would be doing just the same. He promises us all grace, all sufficiency in all things, so our failures and falling is our fault. If we fail, we did not try, we did not lean on Him, we did not resist to the point of shedding blood, as scripture says. Our not doing, my not doing, is for this reason only. The enemy is defeated and our Lord promises to be strong in our weakness, to hear when we cry for help, to make all grace abound to us in all things. So, again I say...there is no try. Do or not do, that is all.
Lord, deliver us from "trying" and enable us to purpose to DO at all costs...by your might, through your spirit, and for your glory!