Tuesday, January 30, 2007


"...'How can He but, in giving [Jesus], lavish on us all things - all? (Way Translation)' To freely give means lavishly. What do I need today? Strength? Peace? Patience? Heavenly joy? Industry? Good temper? Power to help others? Inward contentment? Courage? Whatever it be, my God will lavish it upon me. Sometimes it helps to look at something which is already given to us lavishly, and then turn the thought [of our current need] upward and ask for and believe to receive just as lavishly that which we so much need [today]. ...if God is ready to give not just a little, but lavishly, whatever we need for victorious life, then it follows that what we need [will] not fail. When we fail, it must be that we have put some barriers between ourselves and our supply. I think it is here that we need to direct prayer, prayer against barriers; and these are nearly always made of self-love in one form or another. God save us from that and enable us to receive that which You so lavishly [promise] to give." -- Amy Carmichael

I struggle with this. I hate that I do because at the root of it is small thoughts about God. But, the Lord has shown me that, though I know He is sovereign and good, I really do think that I've messed up enough to somehow shortchange God's plan or cause Him to penalize me for my mistakes.

Sin has consequences, this is true, but His word says that He is good and does good always; that what is meant for evil by others He means for good; that He causes or allows all things. The only conclusion I can come to is that the path I am currently on is a good path. Not necessarily because it looks good to me, but because He says it is.

My portion and provision now is Him lavishing His love on me.

This is truth.

Not yet being at my goal weight is meant for good. Being unmarried now is good. My roommate situation is good. My work situation, the make up of my family, my struggles in relationships is good. All of it is the working out of God's purposes and answers to prayer. Somehow, someway, though I don't see it or understand it - God's perfect and good will is being done. My sinfulness didn't stop God's grace and mercy from redeeming me and it can't stop anything else. My weakness and struggles and failures and sin are tools in His hand to mold me and make me into a reflection of His Son.

This is truth.

It doesn't make sense - but when I look across humanity I see that these are the primary tools He has to work with in everyone. Obedience, faithfulness and holiness are learned or acquired through our weakness and struggles and failures and sin, as a gift from God. We are a perpetual work in progress - but a work that is planned and carried out by a good and sovereign - and a VERY in-control - God.

So why do I think that my sinfulness and weakness and struggle is unique? Why do I feel I've somehow fallen out of bounds? Why is all I wrote above and know to be truth so hard for me to put feet to and live? Why, when I read words like "lavish", my heart tells me that it applies to everyone but me?

I don't know.

What I do know is that it is a faithless way to be. My current way of thinking (in spite of what I know to actually be truth) doesn't require me to step outside of myself, my circumstances, my physciality, or my intellect, i.e., it does not require faith. And I guess that is the point. Faith requires me to believe, to expect something bigger, better, more than I can logically expect, attain, or feel I deserve. To my flesh that is asking for disappointment. But He promises that Hope does not disappoint. My oft-disappointed heart is afraid of Hope and is opting for small thoughts of God and fear instead.


That is my reality right now. But, I realize, this is not the true reality. I pray that as God continues to remind me of His truth, it will change my heart and allow me to echo and believe and walk in these other true words from my friend, Amy Carmichael...

I cannot.
Can God?
God can.

God can. God will. Lavishly.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


If our faith doesn't require us to step outside of what we know, understand or can achieve ourselves, it is not faith in God; it is faith in ourselves.

The other day I was listening to a sermon on-line. The pastor was speaking about contending for the supremecy of Christ in our post-modern age. He spoke about the unbiblical view of Christ that has emerged in many churches...a Jesus that is neither supreme nor omnipotent, one that will not return as Judge, but rather is some sort of good-hearted, sensitive type, verging on effeminate. There is no talk of wrath or holiness or hell. There is no acknowledgement that Christ died to save us from God and His wrath...which we rightly deserve. This "side" of God doesn't jive with the whole love vibe. The human mind can't reconcile wrath and love. We're not supposed to and we don't like that. But the bible is clear: God is love and He is holy. We are sinful and have a debt to be paid...one we could only fully pay in eternal hell. Because He is love, He sent His son to pay that debt once for all. His sacrifice grants us access to God where we might receive forgiveness and be reconciled to God...forever.

To use the vernacular" That don't make no kinda sense!

But God said it and it has to be true because it is impossible for God to lie. So what we are left with is (BIG REVELATION HERE)...we are not God. His ways are not our ways; they are higher and at times simply cannot make sense to us. That is where faith comes in. By faith we can see the plan of salvation, by faith we believe and accept it, by faith we walk it out every day, by faith we can hope for God's glory to be revealed in and through our lives, and by faith we await our inheritance: seeing Christ face to face in Heaven.

Face to Face. What a thought! And, it can only ring true and fill us with yearning by faith through the gift of the Holy Spirit.All of His promises require the gift of Spirit-empowered faith to believe and claim and live. But if our "god" is nothing more than a prettied up version of us, we require no faith at all because we are never going to be required to get outside of our own heads and experiences. There, the impossible is never possible, neither is true endurance, perserverance or hope.

Oh God of the impossible, God of the Bible, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob...grant us the gift of faith. Grant us faith that sees you rightly, not as some sort of super human but as All-mighty, Sovereign, Holy, Loving, Just, Powerful God. Let our view of you not be limited by what we think or understand or by our past experiences. Be BIG...bigger than our minds can concieve. Be big in every area. Be bigger than our intelligence, than our past, than our present, that our imagination, than our pain, than our disease, than our puny wishes, than the evil we see in the world, than our apathy, than war, than our age or size, than our sin. So big we have no choice but to surrender our all to our very Big and Holy and Good God! For Your Glory and Your Name's Sake...amen!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Divine Interference

Yesterday morning did not begin as I planned. I planned to get up at my usual time (3am) but slept through my alarm - due, I'm sure, to the fried seafood I had at dinner with friends the night before - and didn't wake up until nearly 4am. When I walked out into the hall, I could see my roommate's door ajar and then a note on the counter saying, simply, "PRAY!" I knew my plans would come to nothing and began preparing my heart for whatever the Lord had instead. I prayed that I wouldn't begrudge her taking my quiet time (again), that I could put aside what I felt I needed to do what the Lord wanted me to do. Truth is, it was difficult because I woke up feeling an overwhelming need for Him that morning. Things are not going as they should. I am not doing well. I need all of the Lord I could get. In that moment of struggle, what I could not see was that God was giving me Himself as I died to me, my plans, and gave my time to another.

As we spoke, as I prayed for words, as I tried to encourage her, I heard the Lord speaking to my heart, as well. Even after I wrapped things up, hastily got ready for work and rushed along my way, He was still speaking, leading me into a moment of worship in my car that made me suddenly have a strong desire for a convertible. The roof just got in my way and all I could do was push my hands up as hard as I could and cry.

"There is within a hunger after God, given of God, filled by God. I can be happy when I am conscious that he is doing what He wills to do within." -- Jim Elliot

So often I try to guage God's working in my by my estimation of how well I "do" things. If I follow my schedule or do such and such or don't do these things, God is moving and working, I think. And, conversely, when I "mess up" or my schedule is met with obstacles and interruptions, God was stopped or hindered. Not so. Just not so. Those moments are divine interference - divinely showing us how much of our flesh has seeped into our pursuit of the Lord, and the iniquity even in our "holy things".

Lord, thank you that you cause us to hunger...and thank you that, though our plans get way-laid, though we fail, though others "interfere" and we respond sinfully...you use it all, you continue to speak, you continue to move, you continue to work out your purposes and do what it is you are doing in our hearts. Make us receptive to your move when it doesn't look like it...when it goes against our plans or even our will. And cause us to submit joyfully to your plan, whatever it may be...For your glory and your name's sake. Amen.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Hope in God

From Whispers of His Power by Amy Carmichael...

Strong Consolation (Hebrews 6:18) ... [Dr. Way says this means an] "all prevailing encouragement...[having] the hope of our heart as an anchor on which our soul rides safely, it cannot slip, it cannot break... Some of us are tempted to wonder about our future. We look ahead and imagine and fear. For us there is something especially vvital in this great thought of consolation that is not for today only, but for endless tomorrows. Another word was written surely for any of us who are looking beyond the borders of today: Isaiah 26:3-4 "Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind (imagination) is stayed on you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.

Oh, may our hope be set, not on what may be or what we hope will soon end or peaceful resolution or improved circumstances or others hearts and lives changing or any external thing being any different than it is right this moment, but on God, who we know Him to be when we are most near to Him, when we feel at peace with Him, when we read His Word and know it as truth. Let these gifts of experience that He's given each of us who are called by His Name be equally real and vibrant and tangible when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, wrestling with our own wayward and selfish hearts or yearning for something, someone, some change more than we yearn for Him.

Be near, Oh God...draw us near...your nearness is our good...our only good. Shift our hope from persons, places and things to You and You alone.

Let us Hope in God - knowing that it is only this sort of hope that does not ever disappoint. Let us Hope in His goodness, His ability to do the impossible, that He is for us, working ALL things together for our good and the good of those connected to us, that His will is our sanctification, period. Everything else in life is nothing more than a tool, a vehicle a means for holiness. May we see the people around us, our circumstances, what we have and what we lack as such and submit to the pruning and molding and shaping and purifying He wants to do through them.

...for His glory and His Name's sake...Amen!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

New Year, New Heart...hopefully!

Recently, I was listening to an interview with a former Muslim. When asked what the primary difference was between Islam and Christianity, he said: "Both are people of the book, but where Muslim's believe the Koran is a revelation from God, Christians believe the Bible is the revelation of God." He went on to say that, to the Muslim, this type of knowledge of God is impossible, and Christianity's claim to the contrary is offensive. Later in the interview, he made another point that really struck me and has stuck with me ever since...Islam requires no heart change. It is a system of belief and practice that does not require repentance or a change of "want to's"...one which does not change the person or deal with sin at all.

Couldn't that be said of most of "religion"? Even within Christianity, we have various forms of practice, which are primarily that...a system of do's and don'ts which do not require a heart change and therefore do not provoke any other sort of change in the person. People are who they are, year in and year out, struggling with the same sin, carrying the same burdens, going through the motions of religion and effectively keeping it from having the desired effect...a changed heart and a changed life.

"Religion" is easy to do...or not do...because it is about us doing things to try to appease God and make ourselves feel better. But so long as it is about us, we will do neither...and we will remain unchanged. As Christians, though, we are not called to religion...we are called to surrender our lives; to die that we might live; to show brotherly affection that we might love; to not fear what is frightening; to love our enemies; to believe what we do not see; to go out without knowing where we are going...to do the exact opposite of what comes naturally. We cannot do this ourselves. It is only possible by surrendering our will to another and having our hearts changed. In this way, "feeling" will follow action AND what we "naturally" want will be different.

This, and only this, makes for a people, for a religion, that knows God ... that changes lives ... that sets captives free ... and brings glory to Him.

This is my prayer this year, that none of those called by His Name will not be content with any "form of godliness" but will yearn with all that is in them to live surrendered, sanctified lives for His glory and His name's sake.