Thursday, February 11, 2016

He must increase and I must decrease .

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

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept my prayers; and because in my weakness I can do nothing good without you, give me the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments I may please you in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

10. Laughter: man, the only laughter I heard today was pretty mean-spirited.
11. Gifts in working: the joy and dedication of my leadership team and support staff…they are absolutely committed to the vision of not giving up on one of the least of these; the support and compassion and sacrifice of my coworkers; the aching raw need of my students is a huge opportunity to be dependent entirely on the Spirit’s strength and wisdom.

In all these experiences the Lord had a twofold purpose -- the blessing of the needy and the transformation of His servant. "The Holy Ghost took me through grade after grade," he said. "The process of changing one's natures (replacing self nature by the divine nature) was very slow and bitter. It was a daily dying and showing forth the life of Christ, but that life was the life of a victim. Christ was the greatest Victim this side of the Cross, but the greatest Victor on the other; and the daily path was the way of the Cross: every selfish motive and every selfish thought was at once dealt with by the Holy Spirit. In my boyhood days the strictest man I knew was my schoolmaster, but how often I said that the Holy Ghost was a thousand times more strict-the schoolmaster could only judge by actions, but the Holy Ghost was judging by the motive." –Rees Howell, Intercessor
To receive God’s gifts, to live exalted and joy filled, isn’t a function of straining higher, harder, doing more, carrying long the burdens of the super-Pharisees or ultra-saints. Receiving God’s gifts is a gentle, simple movement of stooping lower. –Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts
So yesterday at our staff meeting we watched the new school video, which is all warm and fuzzy and visionary. And we watched a second video, a story put together by an intern for the New York Times, a backstory. And after it finished and the wall was quiet, there was a pause of memories. And then they poured out stories about those angry little kids whose dad was in jail for shooting his wife, their mother, for a second time. And they had a lot of learning gaps, no kidding. But He is a God of restoration and transformation. I know one thing. Their momma is the happiest lady ever serving school lunches once a week. And she was so inspired by her two boys going to Greenfields and The Gregory School that she went and got her GED. And the little sister, well, she is a sixth-grade scholar. With her hand held up high and a sweet smile on her lips.
 So it’s pretty intense these early mornings as I seek to be satisfied by His lovingkindness and nothing more. And I am reading Rees Howells, Intercessor and 1000 Gifts at the same time…little chunks of each to mix in with my psalms and gospels.
 And the mishmash does a pretty good job of framing the paradox of taking up one’s cross each day and yet the yoke is easy and light. Jack talked about that that in Sunday’s sermon.
 The stakes are high: If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. Bit if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? Luke 9:23-25
 As I was flipping turns this morning, rehearsing the workout in my head: 2 200 s, 4 100 k, 1 400 p. 25 s hard easy, 50 s easy hard, 75 s all easy, 100 s all hard and do it again, I remembered little nine-year-old Dre. And I would pick her up after swim practice and she would be chock-full of an adrenaline high. “Let me tell you my workout. Ya wanna hear my workout?” And she would prattle off a string of what then were unintelligible numbers and phrases. Joy through suffering. Strength through pain. And she was one of the two best swimmers in her Arizona age group. Although I am not quite sure to do with the shoebox of medals in her old bedroom closet.

You are either all in or all out. No turning back. Count the cost before beginning to build a tower.

I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property–along with persecution.  Mark 10:29-30

Along with persecution.

And at the end of the sermon, there was a quiet moment. A moment of decision.

Oh Lamb of God, I come.