Monthly Archives: April 2013

Scraping the Sky

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Matt 6v9aTall spires reached up into the billows of grey.

“Mum, why are the called ‘sky scrapers’?” Our four-year-old was impressed by the sight.

So I explained that the buildings are so tall it looks like they are scraping the sky.

“But are they really scraping the sky?” Her eyes were fixed on the high-rises. “Or, are they just pretending?”

_ _ _

Oh, sky scrapers.  Such a silly name.  We know it’s impossible to scrape the sky.  We know the heavens are beyond our reach.  We are not like the fools of Babel.

Suddenly I saw the terrible metaphor.  A lie that enshrouds our hearts.  Humans have come to believe that prayers are like sky scrapers pretentiously stretching to a realm beyond its reach.

A terrible tragedy.  For many humans, prayer is just pretend.

Why? When did this belief start? What disappointment led us here?

What makes us feel so disconnected from God?

Well, I think it’s because we are disconnected.  Our human history is filled with humans choosing not God.  I think about the society I live in and how we’ve purposefully removed God from every place possible.  No God in schools, government, the workplace, the public place.  God is not welcome here.  And every generation has done the same thing.  Ever since the first generation.

So it is not strange at all that we would feel disconnected from God.   When we feel that great chasm, it’s a reminder of our plight.  We want to know God, but we have chosen to become disconnected.

We’ve chosen to become so disconnected that Yahweh Himself had to come to redeem us back to Him.

He came to us because we, just like the Tower-builders of Babel, are unable to reach Him by our own efforts.

And here is the truth about prayer:  Yahweh, the God of the Universe, hears us not because of our efforts but because of His.

Our prayers do not have to stretch into the heavens to reach Him.  He has come close to us.  He is with us.  His Holy Spirit is here. Now. With you.

Sky scraping not needed.  Just a simple honest whisper.

Why not talk to Him right now?

“Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.  (Matthew 6:6-9a Msg)

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Tended To

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Heb 12v13bThe pain was sharp but short-lived. I didn’t even look to see what had happened. But a few miles later as I turned the steering wheel, there was blood. Something had sliced the inside of my thumb as I drove along.

The cut was not terrible but deep enough to bleed nicely.  Like a paper cut on steroids.  A bothersome, silly, superficial wound. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

A little pressure helped the bleeding to stop.  And I went on with my day.  Or, I should say, I tried to go on with my day.

Turns out, I use that left thumb a lot.  Diaper changing, meal preparing, clothes laundering, house cleaning, kid bathing.

The flap of skin kept catching and reopening. An infection started by the end of the day. Puffy and red and painful.  Turns out, little wounds like this are no small thing.

Thankfully I am married to an almost-Eagle-Scout who is highly proficient in the essential survival arts including owie-fixing.  Thankfully, he taught me how to tend to little wounds like this.

Owie ointment. Check. Band-aid. Check.

Clean and cover each morning, night, and any time it gets wet throughout the day.

This week I’ve been on a mission.  I have been dead-set on getting this owie healed.  I do not want the bother to go on longer than it needs to.  I need it over and done with.  And so, religiously, I have tended to this little wound.

_ _ _

Last night as I wrapped a band-aid around for the last time, I thought about the bothersome, silly, superficial wounds of my heart.

The little offenses. A word that lands wrong.  A friendship strained.  A situation that skews weirdly. And suddenly my heart is sliced and bleeding.

Ok. Here it is. Would you consider something with me?

What is our response to little emotional wounds?

Do we spring into action to stop the bleeding?
To cover with healing ointment?
To keep the wound from festering?
To protect it from reopening?
Are we dead-set on getting our little owies healed?
Are we dedicated to tending to the little wounds so they do not go on longer than they need to?

Or … as hard as it is to admit…
Do we indulge the bleeding?
Allow an infection to take root?
Stand by as the wound festers?
Let the emotional slice get puffy, red, and oh-so-painful?
Leave it vulnerable to reopen and become larger than it was?
Leave things untended and go on longer than they needed to?

_ _ _

Do I, with my own actions, allow little emotional wounds to become bigger and last longer?

I know.  It’s not this simple.  I know.

These kinds of hurts are complicated.

But I’m just considering my part in the healing process.

What if I tended to my little heart wounds like I tended to my thumb this week?

_ _ _

I’m NOT talking about minimizing pain, or dismissing grief, or ignoring gaping wounds, or “bucking up.”  And I’m also NOT talking about over-obsessing, or dramatic misery, or garnering a gallery of sympathizers.

What I am talking about is being excellent at the art of wound care.  Of being mindful and dedicated.  I’m taking about being engaged and active.

Praying for the Holy Spirit to point out my little emotional wounds.  Praying for Him to teach me how to be purposeful to tend to these little emotional owies that are bound to happen often.

Because, without being tended to, wounds like this are no small thing.

Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13 ESV)

I Hiding

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Ps 94v22This morning he raced into the kitchen screaming.

“I hiding!” He announced as he collapsed on my feet and wrapped around my ankle.

This is his new favorite “hiding” place: me.

It makes me smile.

I love that he comes to me to hide. I hope this is always his default.  I hope he always feels good to hide with me, not from me.

_ _ _

Today I’m thinking about my hiding habits.

What pushes me into hiding?  And where do I run and hide?

To be honest, I think the biggest thing that makes me hide is shame.  Deserved shame when I’ve done something stupid.  Or undeserved shame from a false accusation.  Both set me running.  Away.  Far, far away.

shame [ shaym ]
  1. negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment
  2. capacity to feel unworthy
  3. state of disgrace or dishonor

At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they strung fig leaves together around their hips to cover themselves. (Gen 3:7 NLT)

Yes that would be me.  Using my own strength and resources to find a solution.  To fix.  To cover. To cover-up. To gloss over.

Toward evening they heard the LORD God walking about in the garden, so they hid themselves among the trees. (Gen 3:8 NLT)

Yes I’ve done that.  Even today.  Hid from Yahweh.  Even as He pursues me.  Even as He pours out mercy and forgiveness and restoration.

My response to hide away from God comes from some deep and sinful desires of my heart.  That I would be my own God and get to squirm away from any and all authority.  To be subject to no one and no thing.  Unyielding. Defiant.  Powerful.  That I could establish my own kingdom.  Where I am always right.  Where I am utterly unaffected by anyone or anything else.  Even as I type this, I feel that dark ego wanting to rise.  Oh how my self-righteousness wants that existence.

But today, as I look at the fullness of joy in my son’s simple life, I know that the pursuits of my ego are false and empty.

And I am inspired by him.  Inspired by the way he throws himself into my arms even as I’m speaking correction.  The way he absorbs love during discipline.  The way his failings send him to find me.

That is where joy is.  A life where “sorry” is spoken quickly.  Where confrontation purposes to build bridges not tear them down.  Where shame is quickly shed and forgiveness is abundant.  Where love is the highest goal.

That is the life found with Yahweh instead of hiding from Him.

I cried out, “I’m slipping!” and your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. The LORD is my fortress; my God is a mighty rock where I can hide. (Psalm 94:18-19, 22 NLT)

Inspired today by my son’s life-filled hiding behaviors.  O that I would never do anything else but run immediately to hide in the safety of Yahweh’s arms.  To listen to His recovery plan.  To walk the restorative path He establishes.  To receive His love as He lifts me out of the fog of shame.  Selah.

A Beloved Limping Distraction

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Matt 5v46She limped across the busy four-lane road.
Her hair wild.
A coat on despite the day’s heat.
Head down.
A heavy load.
Alone.

Her passing by broke my train of thought

I fleetingly wondered where she had come from.

Where could she be going in this sketchy part of town?

And God grabbed my heart.

_ _ _

I have been asked to pray for a project and consider being involved.

Today as I drove through the city, I prayed.

I prayed about the project.

And I complained.  “It’s like herding cats!” I told God, like He didn’t know. “The whole idea exhausts me!”

I prayed for someone else to do it.

I prayed about the projects I wanted to do instead.

I prayed that I could do something more valuable.

That’s when I saw her.

My foot on the clutch, waiting for the light to change.  She disrupted my selfish prayers.

And God grabbed my heart.

You want to do something “more valuable” than loving the people I love?

And then I felt His love for her.  My eyes stung with tears.

My mind saw all the people involved in the project I am trying to avoid.  And I felt how much He loves each of them.

How foolish I am.  To pray for myself and my place in a project without praying to know God’s heart first.

_ _ _

Praying with a new heart now.  Without this terrible attitude affecting my heart to speak and my ears to hear.

If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. (Matt 5:46 Msg)

How are you?  How are your chats with Yahweh?  Is there anything affecting the way you pray and hear Him?

Sanitation Specialist. Astronaut. Arborist.

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Rom 12v11“When I grow up I could be a Trash Collector!  Or I could go to Space!  Or be a Tree-Planter!”

Her face was alive.  Her heart captivated.  The dreams of her future were all so exciting.  Every option equally beautiful.

My grown-up judgemental sensibilities laughed.  Those are three very different options.  Each with different stigmas.  And paychecks.  And lives.

O my sweet child.  How grandly simple your world is.  How cute you are.

Yet her excitement and joy call to me.  Cutting through my cynicism.  Wooing my heart to pursue her simple purity.

Her eagerness to have a function is, honestly, delightful.  Refreshing. Inspiring.

I’m thinking about the vision Yahweh gave us for the Body of Christ:  All parts needed.  Each essential.  Each beautiful.  (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4)

But how, instead, many parts are absent.  And some parts feel like a burden we have to endure.  And some parts seem ugly and not like Jesus at all.

Ugh.  When did we allow ourselves to get so sick?  So misshapen? So unteachable? So individualistic? So jaded? So offended? So self-righteous?  So dysfunctional?

O, why aren’t we a heart-captivated people?  Why aren’t we waking up each day exploding with excitement to function in the roles the Spirit gives us?

Where did our joy go?  Our simple purity?  Our passion to serve His Kingdom?

Once again, my four-year-old daughter is my mentor.  Today I’m asking the Holy Spirit to strip away the things that daily taint my heart, and to re-inject my heart with that beautiful simple passion to do anything, everything, whatever He wants.  Selah.

Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. (Romans 12:11-12a NLT)

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:11 Amp)

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. (Romans 12:4-6a NLT)

Beyond One Gray Winter

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1Sam 16v7Icy raindrops drummed down as I tip-toed around puddles on the moss-covered path.  Everything looked a little sad in the fading dusk light.  There was a feel of despair and oppression.

If you came to visit today you could assume things about this place.  That living here is hard.  That it’s wet and cold and dark.  That the people cave away in their homes and work, like ark-dwellers.  That it’s a gray metropolis of loneliness.  That there is no joy or life or fun. That the gray dominates and controls.

But you’d be wrong.

This is simply a season.  Despite what you’d see today, this city is a glorious Summer host.  A place of utter beauty and warmth.  Of creativity and innovation.  Of love and life.

_ _ _

We sipped coffee and chatted about old times. We remembered and smiled and mused.   Then my dear old friend said something that arrested my mind and heart.

“You only knew me in a dark season. That’s not who I am.”

Oh. I don’t know him. And he doesn’t know me. Our friendship is based on a single season. Like one gray Winter. We only know a small part. Of the past.

_ _ _

I am not who I was yesterday. Something happened this morning that affected me deeply. And I grew. I changed.  Like the frozen earth changes as new shoots push up in the Spring. Subtle but striking.  Green and alive. Something new is growing in my heart.

I am not who I was last month. I am not who I was last season. I am not who I was last year. I am not who I was.

I know this.  We all know this.

But until that coffee chat with my friend, I did not consider the cost of growth and change.  I am reeling.  I am sad.  To know a human is an impossible quest.  Just when we do, something changes.

As the rain drizzles down today, I hear the Holy Spirit beckoning me again. With the Holy Spirit there is Life. Without Him there is not.  I have been leaning on my laurels. I have been relying on my perceptions, my experiences, my assumptions.  But it’s all outdated information.  There is no Life in that place.

Oh friends. How can we truly know each other when our abilities to know each other are so limited?  We need… I need… the Holy Spirit.

This is the fourth time in less than a week that  He’s stirred my heart to be seeking Him more.  To seek Him for direction.  To seek Him for ministry focus. To seek Him for wisdom in conversations.  And now, to seek Him for full and deep relationships.

Four times you’ve spoken this to my heart.  You’ve got my attention God.  Help me to walk in Your wisdom and Life.  Help me to hear you clearly Holy Spirit.  Prepare me. Test me. Refine me. Help me get it.

Boy I hope I learn this the easy way.  I have a sense of fear… to tread carefully… to walk humbly before the Lord.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Have no regard for his appearance or stature… God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the LORD sees into the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7 CEB)

Conversation Fruit

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2 Cor 6v6Her: “Car!”
Him: “Truck.”
Her: “CAR!”
Him: “Truck.”
Her: “CAARRRRR! IT’S. A. CAARRRRR! UGH!”

The two-year-old was smiling. The four-year-old was not.

“Mum, he says EVERYTHING is a truck. But it’s NOT TRUE. And he keeps saying it over and over!” She was so frustrated.

Thus began a little chat about Conversation Fruit. She was wide-eyed and quiet. She listened and heard.

We talked about conversations that grow good fruit like joy, life, love, wisdom. And conversations that grow bad fruit like despair, division, frustration, bitterness.

We talked about relationships with people who are still learning and are not truly able to understand the debate.

We talked about walking away from arguments that are going nowhere. And about hearing the Holy Spirit for when to stay.

And as we talked, my ears heard too.  A little girl, and a grown woman. No matter how young or old we are, we need training in wisdom, godly relationships and Holy Spirit guidance.

Today I’m considering my conversation modus operandi. The soapboxes I’ve accrued. The quotes I love. The debates I’m passionate about. My fighting dogs.

Have we become so entrenched in our ways that we have forgotten to listen to the Holy Spirit in each day, each relationship, each situation, each conversation?

Each day, each relationship, each situation, each conversation. With the Holy Spirit there is Life. Without Him there is not. That’s huge.

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with – even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. (Rom 14:1 The Message)

… solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. … avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. (2 Timothy 2:14 & 16-17a NASB)

Our work as God’s servants gets validated – or not – in the details. … with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; (2 Cor 6:4a & 6 The Message)