Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Counting my blessings.

The human mind and heart are a mystery; but God will loose an arrow at them, and suddenly they will be wounded. Psalm 64:7

My heart shall meditate on understanding. Psalm 49:2

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant me so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that I may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

So this is post #1000.

And I looked at Post #1 from four and a half long years ago. And not much has changed. Just sifting through my journal from that March, man, it is the same old questions. Which is a good thing. Last night we read about old Jacob and his wrestling with God. And even though the morning was breaking, Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 

And that is pretty much how I feel. Every morning while it is still dark out. I come to Him with my cracked and even perhaps smashed and crunched a bit clay vessel, and wait.

New every morning.

Great is Thy faithfulness.


March 2, 2011

Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.  Psalm 90: 14

I can only think that this verse is saying, “In order to be happy, ya gotta have a morning quiet time.”  Is that true? 

In the morning we bring our achy thirsty little hearts to God, and set them down.  Maybe it helps a little big to peer into the void a little, shake it a little to settle things down. It’s a good thing to notice that we really are thirsty.  Sometimes we forget.  Well, don’t forget.  But sometimes, most of the time, we might lose hope, and swallow a few brave swallows, tighten our belt and rush out the door with empty jars.

Sometimes He might have to patch the holes a bit.  Deal with issues that leak.  Jagged cracks that require His Spirit to soften the clay so that His smooth strong hands can reshape and fortify the walls. 

And then wait.  And allow the LORD God to fill us up, to quench the loneliness, the weary dustyness, the cracked and unproductive hardness to overflowing.  His love and kindness are ours for the taking.  Every morning.

Rejoice because our God is a living and active God who is taking part in the daily fray.  He has not abandoned His world.  His people.  And He shall triumph.  And He does- each and every day decisive battles take place and He and we are victorious.  Let us rejoice. 

And be glad.  The gladness of purpose and goodness.  And calling.  The richness of Truth that refreshes and brings forth fruit. 

And may we have springs of living water flowing out of our lives, as we make our pilgrimage through a dry and thirsty land. 

Cause me to hear Thy loving-kindness in the morning, for in Thee do I trust.  Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto Thee.  Deliver me, O God.  Teach me to do Thy will.  Quicken me O LORD, I lift up my soul unto Thee.

So be it.  

And a day to celebrate beloved Andrea and the joy she brings to our world. Thank you dear Father for this very precious gift.  May Your loving-kindness be ever-so-real to her today.  And all the days of her life.  To overflowing. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Slow down. You move too fast. Gotta make the moment last. Just kicking down the cobblestones. Lookin’ for fun, and feeling groovy.

The Call to Prayer
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; praise Him, all creatures here below; praise Him above, you heavenly hosts; praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Doxology

The Request for Presence
Send out Your light and Your truth that they may lead me, and bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling; That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness. Psalm 43:3-4

There are four appointments scratched on the calendar this week and two evening meetings slotted and all six kids have swimming lessons and there are piano recitals and exams looming at week’s end and . . .and days flood torrential–but full attention slows the current. Don’t I always have the choice to be fully attentive? Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus. Eucharisteo, eucharisteo. That keeps the focus simple ­sacred. Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts

My little scratched-upon calendar is also full and overflowing and double-booked. Of so many good and delicious things. But I gulp my food, certainly not chewing properly with due attention.

And momma spends a lot of time preparing Family Dinner. A creamy rice with sautéed mushrooms and vegetables. Both pumpkin bread and rustic loaf. Pork loin with a lovely seeded sauce. A dark green salad with homemade croutons. A splendid apple pie at the end. And just for me, my favorite chutney, chopped pears and raisins and ginger and oh-so-many spices.

And last night I sort of left in a messy clutter leaving behind, unstacked dishes and a crumb-covered tablecloth. And fifty snack bags of chocolate cookies for the refugee tutoring Center.

And I didn’t even really pause by the fire waiting for me at home, the sparkly lights and crackling warmth. And mull over the stories of lives changed through intentional mentoring over the long haul.

And really, if you think of it as a good and delicious gift, ten hours a day with aching thirteen-year-olds longing to be noticed, really seen, pleads to be savored as well, and not merely endured.

In His embrace, time loses all sense of speed and stress and space and stands so still and holy. -Voskamp

May I slow down and look today. Make the moment, His great gift, last.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Better to abandon your quest for interpersonal justice and focus on what you can control – your forgiveness of others. -Seth Barnes

May God be merciful to us and bless us, show us the light of His countenance and come to us. Let Your ways be known upon earth, Your saving health among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2

 It has become somewhat of a cliché, God Bless America. Even a political spat point. But indeed, may He show us the light of His countenance. May we know His ways.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant me so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that I may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

And may we embrace Scripture. And take it seriously, outside of the platitudes. And meditate upon it. And digest it. And let it work into our soul deeply. May His ways be known upon earth, His saving health among all nations.

The earth. All nations.

His ways.

The us is a lot bigger.

Jesus declared publicly: If anyone hears my words and does not keep them faithfully, it is not I who shall judge such a person, since I have come not to judge the world, but to save the world.

Let me be about His business.  

And once again, Seth Barnes had a good word. A guy with his boots on and in the trenches. And he reminds me that cannot fret about others. But me, me I can keep His words, and keep them faithfully. And as He did not come to judge the world, so then neither shall I.

Rather, let me be about His business.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

So the wall of Jerusalem was completed on the 25th day of the month of Elul.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant me so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that I may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

I pretty much imagine my assorted loves ones pleading for His angels to take charge over me every single time I get near my beautiful big bicycle. I have an affinity for gouged-out and busy-traffic streets, and it is not without reason that each and everyone calls out after me, “Be careful!” as they peer upward looking for those angels. Our minds are full of images of golden and white winged guardians with drawn swords standing between His children and jagged oceanside cliffs and roaring lions. And bumpy roads.

And while this is all true, even more so, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

Sunday Jack taught from Nehemiah 4 and 6, and detailed the physical and emotional manifestations of these wrestling matches. Yes it is true that the battle appears to be against Sanballat the mocker, and Tobiah the Ammonite who said, “What do these Jews think they are building? If even a small fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!”

But we know better. We know who the real enemy is.

And we read how Nehemiah, the wise and faithful and courageous man of God met all of the flaming darts. After the ridicule, he took his anger and humiliation to God in prayer, freely expressing his feelings. It is to be noted, however, that he did not target his anger and humiliation against the mockers themselves. He knew it wasn’t really about them. And him. There was something far bigger at stake.

Today’s Call to Prayer is a call to waiting for His rescue: Love the LORD, all you who worship him; the LORD protects the faithful, but repays to the full those who act haughtily. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD.

Waiting is an act of worship. Waiting is declaring to our enemies that He is God. He is trustworthy.

Reacting is wrenching control from Him, denying His goodness, an act of haughtiness full of its own consequences.

Jesus said that persecution and insulting is a blessing. Peter tells us to respond with gentleness and respect. John White says when we listen to the enemy, we stop working for the kingdom, but when we continue feeble walking forward, we continue in His service. We need to respond in prayer and work. 

Once ridicule failed, the enemies turned to threats, threats that led to discouragement and hopelessness. The workers became tired. They complained, “There is too much dirt and trash in the way. We cannot continue to build the wall.” They pointed out ten times, “Our enemies are all around us. They are everywhere we turn.”

Nehemiah’s responded with both word and deed; he filled in the low places and encouraged his people, Don’t be afraid. Remember the LORD who is great and awesome. Jack’s face lit up with joy reminding us of Nehemiah’s confident response to his quaking people.

I too need to respond in trust and action. Trust as in the psalmist’s declaration, when anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psalm 94:19.  God is faithful. He who began a good work in will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. God is bigger than my weaknesses.

Yesterday was pretty awful instructionally-wise. I have certainly not stepped into any rhythm beyond neatly writing the day’s objectives on the whiteboard. My low places are myriad. And it is easy to become tired and discouraged and complain. But Nehemiah did not falter. Steadily and wisely he assessed and everyone went back to their job and did their part. I have no idea how the Spanish skits were the high point of so many students’ day when they felt like utter chaos. But like those weary folks with a job to do, so will I continue to work on the wall, from the first light of the morning until the stars came out at night.

The enemies did not relent. They brought out more weapons, those of compromise and intimidation from within. And like Nehemiah, I must continue on. Deceitful attacks need to be met with truth, focus on the primary task, and prayer for strength. Pray for discernment against the schemes of Satan, which are often those of compromise.

And that is where those angels come in. All day yesterday I reminded myself that His angels have been given charge over me in all my ways, in all of my struggles whether they be for wisdom or against fear or in weariness, they are there, with overarching power and strength, to guide and to keep me.

And may my heart take courage, as I join those who wait for the LORD.

And I plea for courage and strength and guidance and provision for all the others who wait, who wait and struggle in circumstances far more threatening and disheartening than anything I will ever imagine.

Dear LORD God Almighty, Be our strong rock, a castle to keep us safe, for you are our crag and our stronghold; for the sake of Your Name, lead us and guide us.

For the sake of Your name.