Wednesday, December 31, 2008
He has a companion web site www.crazylovebook.com that has two videos that you should watch. I'll make it easy by embedding them here.
The first one is "The Awe Factor of God". This video is on the www.crazylovebook.com site and also on YouTube.
It is impossible to watch that and not think about how this world "so isn't about you". We were made to worship.
But if talk of worship is greek to you, then watch the second one "Just Stop and Think".
Lord, I pray that these videos touch hearts today and that 2009 would be a year of falling in love with you with a Crazy Love - crazy, relentless, all-powerful, unconditional love, like you give to us freely.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
A major source of disappointment in a relationship is when our expectations aren't met.
I'm learning that the issue of expectations is one that is often easily fixed by improving communication, if you recognize the real issues at hand and to deal with the other person in love.
My husband used to get irritated with me when I didn't do something that he expected me to do. The problem was that he wasn't telling me what he expected (I know you never have this in your relationships!), or if we had discussed me doing something specific, he often would leave of the little detail of when he expected me to have whatever it was done.
Even simple things could cause a major fight. One example is when recently he asked me to help with the laundry (I'm fortunate that he normally takes care of it) and he expected it to be done in a few hours, taking care of each load right when it finished. That was the picture that he had formed in his mind (his expectation). I had in my mind that as long as I worked it in by the time I got to bed (multi-tasking a dozen things in between), that was ok. In the end, it wasn't the laundry that was the issue, it was how we were communicating. In the past when I would ask him why he didn't tell me what he wanted, he would respond that he "shouldn't have to". Maybe this is a guy thing, but I just couldn't figure out how to transform myself into a mind reader.
Now I'm not usually slow, but we've been married for 18 years and it just occurred to me this week to ask him to write down his expectations so that we can discuss them and both be on the same "page".
The fact is that I love him and don't want to let him down and I especially don't want to be a source of irritation to him. After years of this same issue recurring, combining love and communication was a great way to solve the problem.
Other sources of disappointment in relationships can be lying and inconsistent behavior. I wish I could provide as easy an antidote to those challenges. I know for a fact that dealing with people who disappoint you by trying to extract justice (pointing out their errors according to the law that you've laid down) doesn't work. It doesn't bring about perfection, nor does it instill a desire to change.
We must instead look at the model of hope that comes from serving a God that does not lie and cannot change. His way when we let Him down involves mercy (not getting what is actually deserved) and grace (getting what is not deserved - His unmerited favor).
17Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
In the recent movie Fireproof, the main characters in the story were in a dysfunctional marriage. The husband was given a copy of a book called the "Love Dare", which had a 40 day plan of demonstrating love outlined for him.
I won't spoil the story, but if you are in a marriage that has been filled with disappointment and it can't be fixed by simple changes in your communication, try the Love Dare. Give God a chance to fix your relationship. Go see the movie if it is still playing near you.
"Lord God, my heart and mind always vears back to justice and the law when I am disappointed by someone. Your mercy is beyond my comprehension and grace is beyond my nature. Change me to look more like you today and everyday that we get closer to standing beyond the veil with you, our High Priest."
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I'm wondering today at the use of "receive" and "find" as it relates to mercy and grace (in that order).
I began understanding mercy under Pastor Fred Sindorf's teaching about the mercy seat at the Risen Savior church in Milwaukee (well, West Allis to be exact).
I definitely experienced God's mercy in those days - unmerited favor or more simply, not getting what you deserve. Mercy is the direct opposite of justice - getting precisely what you deserve.
But in the 30 years hence, I still lived somewhat under the law/justice mode, expecting punishment whenever I didn't live up to God's standard. Make no mistake, I know that God was not happy with some of the choices that I made, but it was my choices He hated, not me.
It was only 3 years ago when Michael and I went to a Tres Dias weekend that I "found grace". Or should I say, it found me. I now fully understand the rest that is possible through his sympathy with our frailty, instead of expecting punishment. And I know that someone else stood in for my punishment, which is the ultimate form of grace.
I want to share with others His rest, which is understanding His GRACE.
Lord, use me to demonstrate the peace and rest possible through your grace. Thanks for the gift of grace and serenity in the midst of chaos.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
2 Timothy 1:6 Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.
2 Timothy 1:14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
Everything we need to get through life is ours. Power, love and discipline are the tools - God's gift to us.
We don't earn gifts, they are given at the giver's pleasure. These gifts are a treasure and the Holy Spirit is their guardian in us.
I need to call on the Holy Spirit to remind me daily that I already have ALL that I need as a child of the King. I will today kindle the gifts.
Lord, thank you for power, love and discipline. They are all that I need. I accept your gift of power over sin and situation, unconditional love and discipline in all areas of my life.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Ever wonder why people put their trust in little pieces of green paper? While works of art in their own right, as the current state of economy proves, they are in fact, not worthy of our trust.
The acts of less than 100 men and women, leaders in finance, government, banking and insurance have brought this country and in fact the world economy to its knees. Which, by the way, is right where God would want us to be under the circumstances!
The thing that we often miss is that even our money has a reminder to us of its own frailty and that we as a country should remember that it is in God that we must trust.
God is not in recession and His economy is not in a shambles. His laws are about giving, not hoarding and about loving and sharing, not living in fear.
Step into His throne room and lay your needs at His feet. He's "especially fond" of you and He's waiting.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Today, I was reading the first two chapters of Joshua. As the story goes, Moses dies and his servants go and tell Joshua that he is "up". He's the one that God has chosen to lead the people (who have been wandering for 40 years across a desert that is only 120 miles wide....) to the Promised Land.
He listens to them. God's words, spoken through them, are peppered with "be strong and courageous" several times, which leads me to believe that what he is about to do is not a slam dunk.
Then, as he takes them across the Jordan to Jericho, he uses a harlot to keep the scouts safe. God rarely makes the obvious choice - the one that the religious people would make. He uses the weak to confound the strong.
After she set up a ruse to confuse the leadership of Jericho, the scouts go back to Joshua to report. They didn't say "We think we can beat them". In Chapter 2, verse 24, they said "Surely the Lord has given all the land into our hands and all the inhabitants of the land, moreover, have melted away before us". I like the confidence, which only comes from knowing the one who sent them.
From time to time, we all have Jerichos before us and deserts behind us. I have been wandering, not for 40 years, but for 2 years in what has seemed at times like a desert. Now, I face my own Jericho, and like Joshua and his men, I know that the Lord has surely given it all into my hands and that what seems to be like a wall before me will melt away before me. Thank you Lord!
What's your Jericho? Who will he use to show you the solution?
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Surrender is an interesting concept. In the natural world, it is giving up and from the world's perspective it is losing.
In God's world, surrender is the first step toward victory -- winning instead of losing. With hands lifted up, putting whatever has been holding us back in His very capable hands.
I'm not talking about just getting on your knees when something is bothering you, I'm talking about a radical act of spiritual surrender, that is, complete surrender of one's life, breath, thoughts, feelings and actions to Him.
I know that given the chance, if I insist on control, that I am actually walking blindly, not knowing what is around each corner. He sees it all. Why would I trust my life to anyone else, including me?
Sometimes we're missing miracles that God so wants to do in our lives - because we refuse to relinquish control. I'm ready for my miracle!
Monday, November 03, 2008
Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
The amazing thing about our post-election future is that whether you are for or against the one that is elected tomorrow, our country is squarely in God's hands.
He is bigger than any candidate's economic plans, stronger than any candidate's experience, wider than any candidate's influence and his reach is deeper than any candidate's pockets.
I waited over an hour on Friday to vote my conscience, but my hope is in the Lord.
Friday, October 24, 2008
My husband and I were talking this morning about what it must be like right now to be part of the uncommitted group that doesn't yet know who to vote for.
With all of the he said/he said (as well as a little he said/she said thrown in for good measure) in the media and in the candidates' own commercials, I suspect the decision at the polls for the undecideds will all come down to fundamental values that separate the basics of the Democratic and Republican party platforms.
The proof of the pudding as to the voracity of their claims and campaign retoric will be in the behavior of the victor in January when the new President takes office.
Although campaign ads can be very confusing and the lack of birth certificates and association with known terrorists can be scary, come January it is a fact that we will have a new President and we are called to support those in authority, even if we don't support all of their views.
I take heart in knowing that as sure as the laws of gravity will not change, neither does the nature of God and in the end, His control is really all that matters.
James 1:17 tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” And the meaning of Numbers 23:19 could not be more clear, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” No, God does not change His mind. These verses assert that God is unchanging, and unchangeable. I am SO glad.
While I do know who I am voting in just 11 short days, at the end of the day, my hope is not in him for our economy and the safety of our country, but in the God that made heaven and earth.
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
One who seeks His face in all that I do
Monday, October 20, 2008
I just got back from the latest women's weekend of the local Tres Dias community here in Tampa. The theme for the weekend was Women of Worth. All I can say is WOW.
There were 30 women that attended and nearly 100 of us that served them on the weekend.
Imagine those service ratios in a hotel or on a cruise or in a restaurant. That service model can only thrive in God's economy.
Those 30 women left the 3 1/2 day encounter totally transformed. The bold became meek and the mild ones left courageous. It is impossible to be in the presence of Jesus and not be changed by his amazing grace.
While this may have been just a favorite hymn before the weekend, these women left truly understanding the unmerited favor - unearned gift that they have received and their worth does not come from WHO they are but WHOSE they are.
They were set free in ways that would be hard to imagine if you do not know his unending love and amazing grace on a personal basis.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Perhaps it was a spouse asking you to pack a bag for a surprise weekend trip, or an employer who asks you to have lunch and when you look worried, they say "I have plans for you!", you know that you are not facing a pink slip.
Jeremiah 29:11 says
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
If there is anything better than knowing that someone has plans for you, it is knowing that those plans are for prosperity, hope and a future!
Especially in these troubled times when it would appear that there is anything but hope ahead, it is just wonderful to know that there is One that not only has a plan for you, but that loves you more than you can ever know.
Hold fast to His promise. Ask Him to guide your every step. He is waiting.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The picture is from an "outward bound" type of management training session. I went to one of these workshops nearly 20 years ago when I was with American Airlines Sabre division. It was put on by a firm called SportsMind™. The picture is from an exercise called the trapeze.
The first thing that happens is that you climb a telephone pole that has "steps" nailed to it. On the top of the pole is a little wooden disk, about 12" in diameter or about the size of a small pizza pan. When you get to the top of the pole, you have to climb up on the disk and stand up, turn around and then jump out about 6 1/2 ft to grab a trapeze.
OK, I'm afraid of heights. Actually it is more than that, it is actually a fear of falling off of high things or worse, being pushed.
Sometimes this is what life feels like - scaling something impossible, only to have to balance on something equally impossible and having to jump from there to something even more impossible.
What if I lose my balance? What if I fall?
What I didn't tell you is that at SportsMind, they start by attaching you to ropes that allow your colleagues to hold on to you as you are climbing, and if you fall, they are able to steady the ropes and the carabiners and beley lines keep you from falling as they control your descent.
This is exactly like faith. God never allows us to take those chances without having a solid grasp on the beley lines of our life. He won't let us fall.
Back to my jump. I was scared. Even though the beley lines were there and I knew my colleagues had a good handle on the ropes. But did I trust them?? We hadn't exactly been working as a team leading up to the executive retreat, which was largely the reason we were all there.
I climbed the pole with relative ease, but getting up on the disk was harder than I ever imagined. And turning around to face the trapeze was even harder. When I finally got steady and I jumped, it was amazing. Someone got a picture of me totally in flight. I reached and I caught the trapeze.
What a rush!
I let go and my teammates guided me slowly and safely to the ground.
I wanted to do it again!
If you are just reading this post not having read the one below it, now listen to the song by Twila Paris. "Do I trust you Lord" is the refrain of the song.
Do I trust you Lord? You bet.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
I am frequently inspired by songs, which is why the best thing I could possibly do each morning is go out for a walk with these songs loaded on my iPod.
The song that kept coming to my mind yesterday was one by Twila Paris called "Warrior is a Child". (click on the link to hear the song on You Tube)
In that song, she says that although people look at her and see how strong she is (which is an observation that many of my colleagues make of me), at her core, she is the the child that "goes running home when she falls down" and that her Almighty is the one that "picks her up when no one is around".
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I'm amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me
I'm hiding all the tears
They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child
Unafraid because His armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I'm amazing
Never face retreat
But they don't see the enemies
That lay me at His feet
They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
the warrior is a child
They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and look up for a smile
'Cause deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
The Warrior is a Child
My strength comes not from who I am, but from whose I am.
I know that no matter what battles I face, his armour is the best.
Deep inside this armour, this warrior is a child. His child.
Ike is the latest of the named storms that Floridians are monitoring. When they first started talking about Ike, Tampa where I live, was smack dab in the center of the cone of uncertainty. This morning, the forecast for Tampa is now clear as a bell.
One of my friends on the call mentioned that life was often like living in the cone of uncertainty. That created a mental picture that over the weekend I haven't been able to shake. I joked about writing a book with that title, but my faith blog is a much better place for this tome.
Uncertainty comes from having external events (or other people) that influence control over your situation. It can come from within as well, when you haven't yet made a decision.
In the hurricane vernacular, the external events are high pressure and low pressure systems, water temperature, winds and the like. And even your own decision to get everything valuable out of the first floor of your home, board up or evacuate.
In life, we have the economy that is swirling around us, often feeling like it is bearing Category 4 winds and metaphorically fearing 10-20 foot storm surge that could result from being laid off, not getting that next consulting contract or not getting funding for a business. For some it is not being able to pay a mortgage, or make payroll or just not having money to make ends meet and having to severely trim or cut your lifestyle.
We also have other people's actions and decisions that impact most everything that we do. This starts as high as with the government and the impact that the coming presidential election will have on our lives and goes down as finitely as the decisions and actions of those that we live and work with, or those that we are responsible for.
For those few days where a hurricane is actually bearing down on a particular area, the responsible thing to do, particularly as it is looking highly likely (e.g. the center of the cone), is to prepare "Plan B". Or you could sit and cower in fear I suppose, doing nothing more than watching it come closer and closer and it getting darker and windier outside.
In those same storms of life, we have the same choice. We can let worry overtake us and give voice to the fact that "I'll never have the money to pay my taxes in April, or I know our current savings will run out in October", or we can make sure that we realize that we aren't in control of the winds and that, while it is prudent to have a Plan B, the best things is to take your worries to the feet of the one that created the winds.
Here are the lyrics from one of my favorite worship songs by Chris Tomlin, called "You do all things well". Listen to it by clicking on the link.
Glimpses of You
Burn in my eyes
The worship of heaven
Fills up the skies
You made it all
Said, "let there be"
And there was
All that we see
The sound of Your voice
The works of Your hands
You do all things well
You do all things well
You do all things well
The strokes of Your beauty
Brushed through the clouds
Light from the heavens
Touching the ground
Imagination runs wild
And breathes the breath of life
Across the fields
Across the miles
My favorite line of that song is the one about the power of words. "He said let there be, and it was". If indeed we are created in His image, our words have power as well. I want to harness his creative word in my life and for his "imagination" to run wild on my situation, breathing the breath of life into our companies and into our finances!
I take refuge today not in a storm shelter, but in the shadow of the wings of the Almighty God.
If you find yourself living in a cone of uncertainty, take heart. Psalm 57 was written by King David when he fled from Saul into a cave, being fairly certain that he was going to be destroyed.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
Whatever calamities, percieved or real are facing you, and whatever the velocity of the winds are that are whipping at you, as you work to create your own "Plan B", try also calling on him as your refuge.
Although some days I get caught up in fear as to the effects of my own personal cone of uncertainty, today I woke up knowing that the shadow I see is not the great storm approaching, but the soft underside of the wings of the Almighty.
And I breathe the same sigh of relief as seeing the cone for Ike now far west of Tampa, while at the same time praying for those in His path that they will call on the same power to keep them safe.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
In the picture above, there is a mountain ahead. There is fog at the bottom and there is water on either side of the path. Anyone who has climbed a mountain, like John, will tell you that doing so requires not only preparation, but vigilance and keeping your eyes wide open. On the path above, if you don't remain focused on the goal, the prize, you may stray off the path and find yourself in dangerous waters. Metaphorically of course.
In the quest for the mountain, we can get tired. We get discouraged. Each time we focus on ourselves, we find new reasons not to put one foot in front of another. We look around and feel alone.
If we were in fact alone, it would not only seem hopeless, it would be hopeless.
I haven't asked John specifically about what it took to make him successful in his Everest climb, but I do know from reading his website that the support of others was critical.
Over and over in the Old Testament and New alike, you will find the phrase "Fear not, for I am with you". If we change that to today's vernacular, it would say "Don't stress out, for I am right by your side".
This past year has been an extremely difficult one for me personally, for my family and for my companies. I do know that I am not alone. Not only am I surrounded by friends, family and my friend and coach, I have the God of heaven and earth at my side. He is prepared to hold my hand and guide me, when I can no longer keep my eyes open and when I'm so tired or fatigued that I can't take another step. When the fog is so thick that I can't see the way, He gives me uncanny guidance and the most amazing people come into my path.
One thing is for sure. I will reach the mountain top. No one ever promised it would be easy, but God promised that I wouldn't be alone.
Whew! That gives me courage to face another day. How about you?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I was sharing with some visitors to Florida this week who were fearful about the potential hurricane, that palm trees bend with the wind, instead of being broken like some other types of trees, which then become a wind hazard.
Frequently we spend time preparing for the hurricanes of life, looking at what might be, what could be, instead of what is. We worry about what might get broken, instead of standing firm, like a palm tree does in the wind.
Psalm 16:8 (New International Version) says:
8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Through the hurricanes of my life, I choose to bend, not break and to not be shaken, because my God is at my right hand.Chicke
Monday, August 11, 2008
Some of you like surprises, others can't stand not knowing and rather than the smile you see here on the man's face, it actually makes you terribly uncomfortable, particularly when someone else is guiding you along when your eyes are closed.
Faith should be a delight, just like what you see on these two faces.
Today I feel like God is the one with the surprise. He has something that he is maneuvering me over to see. I can feel his hands over my eyes and can sense his gentle nudging in the direction that he has for me.
It is easy to revert to feeling uncomfortable, even manipulated or kept in the dark, but I know Him so well that I know that what He has for me is not only good, but that I will truly delight in the unveiling of what he has prepared for me.
waiting, with a smile on my face and his hands over my eyes.....
Sunday, August 03, 2008
A friend sent me the link to this trailer today. Very powerful stuff. There are a couple of things here. One, putting yourself in a place where for a period of 40 days, you take one step at a time toward something you see as impossible. Then, asking for God's help to get you the rest of the way.
My marriage doesn't need help, but I can see that this same principle will move mountains in other areas of my life. Do you have anything in your life that seems impossible right now?
Check out the trailer. And mark Fireproof on your calendar. It will be out September 26th.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I am a serial entrepreneur that often is faced with multiple opportunities at the same time. And often, they are all exciting and get me jazzed.
But alas, as with a fork in the road with signs, you can't keep moving and chase multiple directions. I'm quite sure that there is a scripture reference that addresses that. Probably in Proverbs.... but this morning, I'm working on getting focused. Really focused on the plan that God has for me today.
Psalm 139 says that every day of my life is ordered. That means that if I listen closely, God's spirit will nudge me toward the right direction -- to avoid pain, to be as successful as I can possibly be, to be available for the next fork in the road, to be available for someone that needs me down this particular path.
I'm ready. I want to be on the right path. Nudge me Lord! I'm yours.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Life is indeed like a highway. Lots of different terrain, different vistas, different vehicles, many destinations, different traveling companions.
For the past 20 months, I've been building a company that has developed software for road trip planning. It is hard to plan for all of the things you can come across on the road and the things that you want to find, but we've gotten a good start on it.
For the last 50 years, God has been laying out the plan for my life, sort of a microcosm of what he does on the grander scale as the Master Engineer of the "highway" of our lives.
It has been nothing short of amazing that as things seem the bleakest or I suffer disappointment at a particular turn of events, that right around the next corner is something so amazing that I couldn't have even imagined it for myself, let alone asked (or in the spiritual vernacular, prayed ) for it.
A dear friend reminded me yesterday of the scripture Romans 8:28 "All things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to his purpose". From a practical perspective, what that means is that I really don't have to worry and get all "spun up" about things that don't seem to be working out or fitting together. That is His job (not the worrying and "spun up" part..... the fitting together).
Every time I see construction of bridges or freeways, I always wonder how the engineers can be assured that they are going to get it right and that everything will in fact connect and match up perfectly. But, invariably they do and it does.
I have a neighbor here in Tampa that works for the engineering company doing the new freeway construction near the airport and knowing the precision that he demands in his own life, and understanding his educational background and experience, it is easy to see how the new freeways emerging near Tampa airport are going to come together. His reputation and his firm's reputation depend on it.
Relationship with a builder can make all the difference in the belief that out of dirt and piles of struts, trucks filled with concrete, cranes and workers that by the end of the day are tired and dirty, can come a state of the art new transportation system for a growing area.
In my life, I am totally confident that the master engineer of all engineers will get it right and that ALL the dots will connect and match up perfectly in the end. Even though I can't see evidence today that it will all come together, looking back on my life, I know that it always does.
That my friends is faith. Believing in the thing that you don't see, can't see or that just seems totally implausible or even impossible.
I believe in miracles and wait eagerly for the next turn on the "highway" of life.
Monday, April 28, 2008
As it turns out, life is like that as well.
Since my daughter was a little girl, she called the escalator the "whee". In truth, my analytical self found it odd that one could come up with the exclamation "wheeeeee!" out of something that moves so slowly and predictably. But nevertheless, she loved going on escalators.
A few months ago, we were in Macy's and she and her brother asked if they could go down and have me meet them when they came back up. Well, at aged 10 and 8, I figured I could trust them that. After all, I just had to walk from one side of the store to the other and be there as they came around. As providence would have it, the up escalator was broken and actually barricaded. Fortunately, my daughter is resourceful and took her brother to the elevator. Meanwhile, at that juncture I figured out that there was only one way up, and so I went to meet them at the elevator.
In life there is only one way up, out of the mire of a lack of hope, of our failures and even our inability to cope with our failures. But sometimes, we have to go down, and around and up the elevator to get to where we are going. If we focus on barricades and the hopelessness of that, we won't see that there is another way.
Popular authors, even those endorsed by Oprah, would have you believe that you are the way up and that by harnessing the Universe or the power of positive thinking that you alone are in control of your destiny. Or worse, you may just believe that it is a cruel world and that in the end if events drive you down, it is down that you have to remain.
I don't know about you, but the thought of my world resting on my abilities is a bit daunting.
Oh I'm talented and even more positive than some, but the fact of the matter is that my natural being is fatally flawed. God's word says that all of us fall short.
But there is hope. Hope has a name. His name is Jesus.
For those of us with children, the thought of putting our children in harms way, to pay for the mistakes of someone else is abhorrent. Even if it were the only way to release someone from pain, or sickness or even death, we couldn't do it. We don't understand the kind of love that God has for us that he would in fact do just that. Put his only child, his only son, in a position to pay for what we rightfully should die for.
Hmmmm you say. Well, I'm really not all that bad. I certainly haven't done anything that someone else had to die for. I didn't ask God to do that for me.
You see, God knows something that we don't know. Actually he knows LOTS of things that we don't know. He knows first hand that in order to go UP - to succeed, to win, to lead, you must first go DOWN - to be humble, to serve, to lay down your will and your right to choose.
Matthew 5 paints this picture very clearly - in the Beatitudes beginning with 5:3
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
When we are weak, he can be strong in us. And regardless of whether you believe that Jesus had to die for you, it is a historical fact that He did. And while that may seem illogical and senseless, it was absolutely by design.
For those from a traditional religious background, you may remember reciting the Nicene or Apostle's Creed, that says that he was crucified (a horrible death beyond description), dead and buried and that he rose again. There were hundreds of people that witnessed the risen Jesus. It isn't fable.
But he did have to go down in the ultimate act of service, to go up and take his rightful place as the King of Kings.
And he did it, just for you and me. He loves us SO much. It really is incomprehensible. Fantastic really.
I am now a child of God, a princess in fact -- able to come before His throne as an heir to all that He has and all that He is.
And not just able to -- He wants me to and delights in being with me.
I can just say one thing. Wheeeeeeeeee!!!!
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Like many of the books that have been put in my path over the last year of my journey, this one has a set of circumstances that couldn't be further from my life, Nevertheless I know that there is a reason that I needed to reach each one, to take me one step further on my journey.
In fact, the first few chapters were very difficult and even painful to read, as the main character, a man who was the son of a very "religious" man, who was also an abusive alcoholic, took his kids camping and one of them was abducted and brutally murdered. Her body was never recovered, but the dress that she was in was found, bloodied in a delapidated cabin that is called "The Shack" in the book. His wife, who wasn't along for the camping trip, was very close to God and in fact called him "Papa".
After a few years of emotional torment and struggle just to make it from one day to the next, one snowy day, he gets a note, out of the blue in his mailbox, inviting him to visit the Shack that weekend and it was signed Papa.
What ensues in the balance of this book of fiction is an amazing story of his personal encounter with the maker of heaven and earth and the owner of the cattle on ten thousand hills.
While I don't want to give away any of the book's story line, he is introduced to all the different dimensions of "papa" and learns about His amazing nature. By the end of the book, I was so captivated, that I found myself wondering if it was, in fact, fiction or if the write was using third person about his "friend" to actually tell this fantastic story of his own encounter with "mountain maker", "ocean tamer" (see last week's blog on that one!).
I cannot remember another book that I've read that has touched me as deeply as this one. Ever. I am a voracious reader and I've had other books I liked a great deal, but none that I could say changed me from within (which is where all of our change really needs to start!).
This story crystalized the need for forgiveness as a path to true emotional freedom and it paints the clearest picture that I've ever seen that God is ALL about love and actually desires to free us from the bonds of our misconceptions about Him. So much of what we know or surmise about Him is so incredibly distorted as a result of "religion" and so much of what we see in circumstance is not "reality".
For a literary treat, grab ahold of this one for a good read. But watch out, as this book may touch you deeply too. Allow a lot of time too, as this one is one that I could not put down!
Friday, March 28, 2008
You made it all
Said let there be
and there was
all that we see
The sound of your voice
The works of you hands
You do all things well
You do all things well
You do all things well
An an analytical type, it is always my tendency to break things down into "proof points". So if I begin with some fundamentals that I believe, I have to be able to apply those truths to statements in the Bible and inspiration from a writer of a contemporary Christian song.
If God is in fact my maker, which I have no doubt that He is (Psalm 139), and if in fact He created me in His image, which the book of Genesis is clear on, then if in fact He can say "let there be, and there was all that we see", another fact that Genesis is clear on, then I believe that in His image I also have the power of creation and of course, the converse, destruction.
There is a silly phrase that we say when someone says something that we really wish was true. It is "From your mouth to God's ears". Actually this is where the power emanates from. It is not that I have His power, but I have been given the right to call upon His power as His child.
As a parent, it is easy to understand this, as if Kiera or Sergey ask for something, as long as it is not something that will hurt them (and yes, too much Easter candy would fit in that category), I will do all possible to give them what they want. Matthew 7:9 says:
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
So, by speaking, my Father, which owns the cattle on 10,000 hills hears. He speaks and it is done. It may not happen overnight, but a series of things are set in motion by his voice. Like a small stone thrown into a pond, the ripples of the request are felt sometimes worldwide and certainly the impact of what He declares can certainly have global impact.Relationship is a gift. I treasure my friends and I treasure more the ability to ask my Father for bread.
Oh and Lord, if we can get LeisureLogix funded with smart, strategic money, that would be great!!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
This woman knows where she is going. It looks like she didn't exactly plan on the wet path, but she was resourceful in realizing that she could take off her shoes and get where she is going.
Her field of vision is constrained by the greenery on either side of the path and the sky is not clear, which means that there could be another downpour just around the bend.
I don't know whether it is her stance, her clothes, the hat or just the fact that she was resourceful enough to roll up her jeans and take off her shoes.... But to me, she doesn't looked panicked.
Somewhere, perhaps when we were young, we were led to believe that peace is somehow linked to everything being calm around us, sunshine, dry paths, clear fields of vision.
But I have learned through some tumultuous times over the past year, that peace is a choice.
Huh??? A choice? Yes.
We can choose to be fearful when we can't see around the bend, or can't see what could be coming at us due to our field of vision being blocked. We can choose to feel victimized when others make choices that thwart our purposes. We can get mad that it has rained and our new shoes will be ruined or our pants will get wet. And we can just plain react when things don't go our way.
But we have a choice. In 2 Timothy 1:7, God's word says that "God did not give us spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." The New King James version uses the term "and a sound mind" instead of discipline.
When a tradesman sets out to work on a house, he first assembles his tools. He puts on his toolbelt, selects the right tools for the job and assuming that he has the training that has made him competent for the job, he goes to work and successfully completes his tasks.
If armed only with timidity, it is tough to greet a difficult situation with anything but fear.
But if my toolbelt includes power, love and a sound mind (which results in discipline), then there is nothing that I can't tackle.
These aren't just spiritual gifts, but practical ones! The Message translation of the Bible has applied this translation:
So no matter what your storm, no matter how narrow your field of vision, whether the sun is shining or there is a storm on the horizon, ask him to guide your steps, roll up your pants, take your shoes off and tred on!
He laid down a path for your life before you were even conceived. Psalm 139 is His love story of your life and in particular verses 15 and 16 speak to His plan for your life.
Choose to walk in the path that He has for you and you will find peace. In that peace is clarity of vision. Amazing........
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
I just finished reading a book called the Grand Weaver, by Ravi Zacharias, that tells the story of how our lives are like tapestries or fine fabrics (in the book he opens with a story about the weaving of wedding saris in the north of India).
Sometimes God uses the dark and dull – black, grey and brown – threads as a part of an overall picture, to provide contrast and the right backdrop for the brilliant threads that make up the design that He has for our lives. At times, we can only see the knots and the chaos on the back of the tapestry and lament at our lack of control over the weaving process. He sees the brilliantly colored threads that are just waiting, out of our field of vision, to be woven into our tapestry.
I firmly believe the story told in Psalm 139 which says that there is a grand plan for our lives, where each segment includes a beginning, various steps along the way (dark, dull as well as brilliant) and an end. Each segment is also a huge learning process and sometimes failure or loss in a particular segment of our lives is the grand teacher, allowing us time to reflect and learn from each step along the way, both good and bad.
As we try to understand a God that can see the beginning, the middle and the end, including all of our choices and the choices of others along the way that impact us, truly caring about the outcome, I'd like to share an analogy someone recently shared with me of watching a marathon.
In the marathon analogy, your perspective is different as a runner and as a spectator. An experienced runner trains, generally gains an earlier start near the front and if they don't run across any external obstacles, they expect an outcome that puts them at or near the head of the pack at the finish line. In fact, really successful runners will tell you that they start off by envisioning themselves being the first to cross the finish line. If we are a spectator, we are either at the starting line, watching the enthusiasm of the experienced and novice runners alike as they begin the race, or we are somewhere along the way, seeing people get discouraged, trip over something, fall or quit from exhaustion or heat and if we are positioned at the end of the race, we see the victors, hose that are angry because they didn't win and those that persevere to the finish line and those that celebrate finishing last, just because they were able to get to the finish line.
God's perspective is that of the person in the helicopter that can see the beginning, the middle and the end of the race and that can zoom in on any circumstance along the way and who has long enough arms to reach down and comfort those who fall and cheer on those that perservere.
When we feel out of control of the weaving of our lives or the running of the race, it is easy to get angry, bitter, frustrated, to lay blame and to live in regret of choices made and what might have been. "If only", "Why didn't I", "Why did he/she" are all refrains of the same sad tune that leads to a very dark place if we follow that line of thinking and don't see God's larger perspective on our lives.
I also read another book this past week by John Maxwell, called the "Difference Maker" that talked about the role that attitude plays in our lives. The one thing that really stood out about the book for me was John's analogy about the elevator of our life and our attitude and that we are in control of that.
Living a life of regret and blame for the past, and worse, talking to everyone who will listen about the injustices that we perceive that we have suffered at the hands of others is like getting into an elevator and choosing to press the down button.
My parents were eternal optimists and always believed the best about people. They choose in their conversations to always press the "up" button in the elevator, leaving their friends, colleagues and even acquaintances in awe as to the peace that they could have amidst the chaos that often surrounded them as pastors of a church. In their lives, unconditional love was the driver of all that they did. I was fortunate to grow up with that as a key "ideal" and a model for my own behavior. I wish I could say that I was always victorious against fighting the "down button" battle, but I do know the long term benefits of choosing "up" versus "down".
When Michael and I got married, his uncle George, who married us, said in our ceremony that love is a choice that you make every day, it is not a feeling. He reminded us that some days we wouldn't like each other very much, but that didn't change the choice to love.
I have realized this week that I won't always like the situations that I find myself in. But like love, personal peace is a choice, not a feeling. It is getting in on the 3rd floor of a 20 story building and deciding to rise to the penthouse, rather than sink to the basement, taking all those around you with you on that same journey.
Over the course of the past number of months that I have been facing extreme challenges in my business life. Fortunately, God has been doing some deep surgery on my soul and is helping me understand the purpose of the deep, dark water, to use Aughey's analogy, to spur growth and stability and even to cleanse out some bad behaviors that have been holding me back in my personal and professional growth.
I have seen a miracle occur in my husband and in our marriage as a result of being able to jointly have a level of peace and clarity of direction amidst the chaos. Some of the events of the past few months have brought me literally home, working out of the house, so I now spend more time with my children and my husband, traveling less. So where I saw a detour in my path, God meant it for good.
Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
The clarity of direction that comes when you choose to trust the Grand Weaver to guide your steps provides the peace that truly passes all understanding, even when there is no illumination to show the full path ahead.
And finally, Philippians 4:8 says "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anyting is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things.
My paraphrase: Choose the up button in your thoughts and in your conversations and in your dreams, and you will be choosing peace in your soul.
Be encouraged, be cleansed, be reconciled with the deep waters and the dark threads that have been plaguing you or those around you.