25 March 2012

juggling act...

An acquaintance of mine asked a great question several days ago: 'To anyone who has had a "mentor" in their life....What is the most important thing that he or she taught you?"

She probably doesn't realize it but she unofficially mentors many and does it in the best way by asking questions that make people think. Her question certainly made me think as I reflected on a lesson my former manager/mentor taught me some time ago. The year was 2003 and I had just been promoted to unit manager. He was my boss when I was a supervisor and assumed the role of mentor once I transitioned into the new job. His words of wisdom?

'You are now at a place where you have a great deal of responsibility, 'many balls in the air'. Understand that eventually, one will drop .... MAKE SURE IT'S NOT THE GLASS ONE!
I thought he was teaching me a business principle. Turns out he was teaching me a life principle. And, through all of the ups and downs and twists and turns, the balancing and juggling act called life - there are several balls which indeed have dropped ... all except the glass one. 

That glass ball, well, it represents my faith in God and commitment to His principles. I have learned that many things can drop: some will bounce so that you can grab hold of them again and some will fall and roll away. Yet this one ball has remained.

Don't allow its description to fool you. While it is the glass ball, it is by no means fragile. Yet it is of ultimate importance, which is why it cannot be dropped. It is foundational and can redeem any of the other balls of life which may get away from you.

How important is faith? Important enough for Jesus to tell Peter, 'I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail ...' (Lk. 22:32) And I believe He has prayed that same prayer for many of us. If we can hold onto faith, it will take care of all the other 'balls'. Seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, all other things shall be added as well. (Mt. 6:33)

'Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering ...'
Hebrews 10:23

Let us cling unswervingly to this one thing, 'faith': in God, through Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Afterall, it is certainly much easier to hold onto one ball than it is to juggle fifty.

In this life, with all that we must manage, at least one ball will inevitably drop ... Make Sure It's Not the Glass One!  

22 March 2012

a living hope

I have something that has been on my heart for several days and it just will not move for some reason. My prayer is that I can make the following statement without people jumping to a bunch of conclusions.

In the past few years with all that I have experienced personally and in my interactions with others, I have come to this conclusion:
     "There are many people who have contemplated suicide who do not want to die ... they simply want the pain to end."

They are not completely hopeless as some would presume. Saved or unsaved, they have a hope and an expectation that what lies on the other side must be better than what they are currently experiencing - if for no other reason than the simple fact that they can rest.

To those who have never been there, and cannot fathom how someone could reach that place:
  • Do you know what it is like to be so exhausted from living that an eternal rest seems like a better option than awaking to face one more draining day all over again?
  • Can you understand and have a heart of compassion for someone who feels that way?
  • Or do you scoff, spew out a Bible verse and flippantly declare, 'It's not that serious.'? 
My heart aches for those who hurt. And I have come to the realization that but for Christ in my life (and me actively in Him), there am I.

'I would have lost hope unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.' [my emphasis] Psalm 27:13

So tonight I am praying ....
Praying that God will touch every person who is so tired of living that death seems like the only viable alternative. I pray that He would speak to you in a personal way, unique and specific to how you can hear Him best. He loves you so much and He is present, even though it may not feel that way.

My pastor made a comment on Sunday and he said, 'There are people that are so lonely ... they can be an auditorium full of people and feel completely alone ... sometimes you need Jesus with some skin.'

Powerful statements ...
And while I pray that He would speak to you individually and directly, through a dream, through a song, through a sermon,  to your heart, through a breeze, a flower or  a touch ... I pray also that He would send you a 'Jesus with some skin', a child of God who will not judge or condemn or minimize your pain - but one who is blessed with discernment and understanding, who radiates the love and compassion of Christ in such a way that it will be difficult to discern the difference.

Yes, God is bigger than anything you are facing and He is well able to handle it. However, I have come to the realization that the biggest hurdle for most people to jump is not in comprehending or believing in the ability of God but in having the assurance of His willingness, believing that He desires to do something meaningful for them.  He does ...

Therefore, I pray that He would comfort you with an everlasting and powerful comfort. And I pray that His love would be as real and tangible as the pain has been ... and so much more so.

I pray that you would see and experience His goodness in the land of the living and that it would be the foundation for a living hope - a match which ignites a desire to stay among us and fulfill the plan and purpose that God has for you life. He does indeed have a good plan, to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a real hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11)

'Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the waters, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green and, it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.'  Jeremiah 17:7-8

Another word for trust is confidence or hope. It is one thing to place confidence in the LORD. However, it is something entirely different when He becomes the very confidence or hope that you possess. Jesus Christ, who died so that we could live, is our hope and confidence.

May the LORD God Almighty, truly bless you and keep you...
May His Holy Spirit supply you with strength and wisdom
May Christ be your living hope and give you hope to live ...  

20 March 2012

worship interrupted ...

There is only so much you can place into a bag or a box or a person ... before it bursts

The thing is, when something gets so full, it doesn't take much to push it past its ability to contain what has been shoved inside. For me, that 'pushing factor' came in the way of an extremely loud crashing sound at 3:00AM Saturday morning where I [after leaping up with my heart in my throat] realized that the shelving had come down, the drywall was torn, the floor was soaked and water was steadily streaming into my apartment from the ceiling.

Sunday, I cracked ...
Then, like a shattered vase, I started leaking  and was unable to stop. The tears started before I even stepped into church and once worship began, it was all done.

Then something happened that I can't really explain but was completely beautiful.

Worship was interrupted...

While God tended to the needs of His children everything that was planned was placed on pause. My pastor never did get around to preaching the first service. But he did have a word ... 

Long before he spoke, my tearful pleading was for God to open my blind eyes and unlock my deaf ears ... for Him to hear me from heaven, but more importantly for me to hear and see Him somewhere in the middle of this twisted, confusing journey that has been my path for the past few years. And He did it.

Hard to comprehend that the LORD would stop an entire service to minister ... to me

I'm sure it wasn't just for me but His communication was just perfect for me and my situation, so intimate and personal that nothing else mattered. And here is what I heard ...        

'I will stop an entire service for you'

Worship interrupted ... 

I cannot begin to tell you what it did for my heart. 

However, it is not the first time He has interrupted worship to respond to someone in a personal, intimate and powerful way.

The woman with the issue of blood experienced first hand what it meant for worship to be interrupted ... just for her (Mk. 5)

Likewise Zacchaeus was privileged with having the King of kings interrupt worship ... just for him (Lk. 19)

But when He does it for you, and you know that He's done it just for you...
Well, words cannot begin to explain.

May He open all of our eyes to see and our ears to hear the very unique and special ways He interacts with us every day.

'For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.' Isaiah 41:13

19 March 2012

God will hear ...

In all the years that I have been saved, I have heard many references to the story of Abraham - specifically his first son Ishmael.

Now, many often note the tale of Ishmael as a terrible, humanistic approach of Sarah (and Abraham) to rush the plan of God - an awful misstep which still bears consequences today. However, that is not my focus for today. My thoughts this evening gravitated toward Ishmael 'the person' and not Ishmael 'the mistake'. For it is God who is the giver of life. Despite the sin-ridden circumstances under which he came into the world, he came into being by the perfect design of the Lord God Almighty.

When his mom (Hagar, the egyptian servant) ran away [in an act of disobedience and rebellion], she had a heavenly encounter where she was given a name for the child she carried. 'Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, "I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude." And the Angel of the LORD said to her, "Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. you shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction."' (Gen. 16:10-11) 

Ishmael -
God will hearken, God will hear

Years later, his name would reveal added signifance which would aid Hagar (and all who would read her story) in understanding the faithfulness of God.

Sent away with her son, without even enough resources for the journey, Hagar found herself in tremendous need, uncertain of how she would care for the needs of her son. In fact, she had given up all hope and set him under a tree to die when the Angel of the LORD paid her another visit: "What ails you Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is."

The LORD heard ...

Yet it was not Hagar's cries which caught His attention - although she did cry out (Gen. 21:16). He heard the voice of Ishmael.

In an act which reinforces His total Omniscience, we come to understand that God knew there would be a day of tremendous need, a day where Ishmael and his mom would cry out, a day when He would hear and respond to the voice of Ishmael. He knew it from the moment that He gave Hagar the name for her son: 'Ishmael, God will hear'. Then He reiterated the promise that He had made all those years ago: "Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation." (Gen. 21:18)

God heard Ishmael and named him accordingly, long before he ever cried out that day.

'It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.' Isaiah 65:24

As a single (divorced) mother of three sons, I am sensitive to Hagar and Ishmael's plight. And it is an encouragement to my soul that the same unchanging God who looked over and made provision for a single mom and her son (all those thousands of years ago) still makes provision today. He still has a heart for the single mother doing her best to raise her children and to provide for their needs. He is still touched and moved by the unique challenges that face the fatherless. He makes it His business to be actively involved and takes personal accountability for their welfare.

Therefore, I shall maintain my trust in the LORD who has seen and made provision for everything that has happened (and will happen) in my life.

Praise God for His unending faithfulness...

16 March 2012

a glimpse of glory ...

'And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen." Exodus 33:21-23

I will put you in the cleft of the rock ...
I will put you in the crevice or hole ... in the hard place

What is worse than being placed in a hard place?
Being placed in a hole ... in a hard place.
Unless it is so that you may catch a glimpse of His glory.

It is in those dark, confined spaces where you catch glimpses of His glory which few are able to partake of.

The place which feels so isolated and lonely is actually 'the place by Him'

The obscure and undesirable place is the very location where He has placed us, intentionally.

The place which can invoke feelings of insecurity is the precise spot where He covers us with His righteous right hand.

And suddenly the constricted and hard places in life take on new purpose and meaningfulness.

13 March 2012

the power of holiness

I haven't written in a while ...
Sometimes you just have to pause on 'holy'

There is something that happens in His presence, as we worship.

Understand, we do not move in and out of His presence
For He is Omnipresent ... everywhere, all the time

'If I ascend into heaven, You are there.
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.'
Psalm 139:8

No, it is my consciousness of His presence that becomes the variable which must be moderated. And as I worship Him, truly worship Him, everything else fades to black.

In those moments of pure worship, His beauty is the only thing which is evident, the only thing which is real and that truly matters.

In that moment, dreams and passions are re-ignited

It is a moment where painful hurts are sometimes unearthed, but where the overwhelming power of His presence makes them of absoultely no consequence as you realize how vast He is and how small the issues of life truly are in comparison.

In that moment, His love is tangible and all consuming.

In that moment, there is a sudden understanding of the concept of peace which passes understanding. It transcends a head knowledge and becomes reality.

In that moment strength is renewed...

In that moment, there is resurrection power and life ...
There exists in that moment, a place for hope to take up residence and to blossom.

My aim is to live, consistently and continually, in that place of surrender...

02 March 2012

Holy ...

'I am the Lord, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.'
Isaiah 43:15

'To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be equal to him? says the Holy One.' Isaiah 40:25

'Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?'
Exodus 15:11

'There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides You; there is no Rock like our God.'
I Samuel 2:2

'Send out Your light and Your truth;
let them guide me.
Let them lead me to Your holy mountain,
to the place where You live.
There I will go to the altar of God,
to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
O God, my God!'
Psalm 43:3-4