Wednesday, October 26, 2016

New Every Morning.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

I was so impressed with this Verse today. I’ve read this Verse over and over. Memorized this Verse. Knew this Verse.

But this morning something happened that made it alive once again.

Isn’t God’s Word great like that?!! You can read it over and over and over again and it is STILL powerful. In fact, in my experiences His Word becomes even more powerful the more I read it. It’s alive!! So it grows in me. It molds me. And the more I read it, the more I am molded. Good stuff doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Here’s the thing: I went to bed last night already defeated about today. Pre-defeated. Ever been there? There were some things I was struggling with, and as I was falling asleep, it's almost as if I was planning to fail. Not making a plan per say, like step one, step two, step three. But just already knowing. Already sighing in disappointment in myself.

So I slept. And I would love to tell you I prayed all night about my struggle, that I wrestled with this thing and overcame. But if I told you I even prayed about it once I would be a dirty liar.

Not. Even. Once.

So I woke up my same old self. I had done nothing. But….something was different. Something was ALIVE inside me. It was fighting FOR me. The Holy Spirit had evidently moved in me and done the impossible overnight. Psalm 16:7 speaks to this: “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”

The KJV says “my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.”, and the Holy Spirit is “my reins”. The word means “inner parts” and that is where the Holy Spirit lives after all. I didn’t remember that verse—only could remember a whisper of it—I had to look it up. But I suppose that is exactly what happened.

Either way, the struggle was no longer there. It was as if I had fallen asleep in deep summer and woke on Christmas morning. Seriously. I felt like God had given me a giant present I hadn’t even asked for.

And what do you know—He DID give me a giant present I hadn’t even asked for!! It was already unwrapped and put together and working! And I laughed and laughed and laughed.

What else could I do?

Who is this magnificent God?! Who is this amazing Deliverer?! He is the One Who can do exceedingly and abundantly beyond anything that you or I can see or think or imagine!! See Ephesians 3:20-21 if you need a reminder.

I don’t know if it will come back. But today, when I needed the victory, it was there. And He tells me not to worry about tomorrow, after all. Today, in the freedom, I gave it to Him. If He was able to do it today, He is able to do it forever.

I am so stunned that this mess of mine like a huge pile of dirty dishes stacked every which way has suddenly all been scrubbed and put away that I am speechless. Only the laughter comes. What words can describe this anyway?

And yet, here I am trying to tell you! That’s why I shared this Verse in Lamentations. His compassions are new every morning. His love, His compassions, His faithfulness—it all begins fresh each morning. It never has a chance to get worn out or tired or used up.

There’s never a “running low”. I love that. I know, for myself, I am generous when I have a brand new something. Take dryer sheets. When I have a new box of dryer sheets, everybody gets their very own dryer sheet!! Small load? Fluff load? Doesn’t matter—I have a whole box! Oh, but let that box get down to four or five and I am stingy, stingy, stingy. Smaller load? Hmmmm, better rip one in half. Fluff load? You’re out of luck, buddy.

Am I the only one?!!

It's just human nature, right? We go on our supply level. But God is no human. And His supply levels never run out and they never run low. Whew. Cause I am finding that I do, indeed, need them each and every morning. And what a great, great Father, that He already knew I would. And He already made a plan for it. And He gave us a promise about it so we wouldn’t have to ever worry about it.

Think about that promise today, that promise given up there in Lamentations. Let it get deep inside you. Really sink into your spirit. Cause it’s the promise of a Good Father. He means it.

And I don’t pretend to know how it will reveal itself to you tomorrow. Today was a complete and utter surprise to me! But that’s the thing about a Good Father—He loves to give you incredible surprises.

Have a surprisingly amazing day! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

He Knows.

So Leslie Knope is still on my brain. And Psalm 139:14: “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” First of all, do yourself a favor and build up your faith by reading Psalm 139. The whole thing, it’s not long. Here, I’ll put it right here for you:

“You have searched me, Lord, and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your Book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with You.
If only You, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of You with evil intent; Your adversaries misuse Your Name.
Do I not hate those who hate You, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against You?
I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

What a God, right?! What an amazing God Who is with us in the heights and depths and the faraway places. No such thing as “too high” or “too low” or “too far away”. What grace!

Even more grace-filled because it comes after the Verse that is both terrifying and thrilling: “You know me”.  Whoa. He knows me. Those things I want everyone to know about me, so I heavily advertise them. And those things I want no one to know about me, so I hide them. All of it.

And yet… “Where can I go from Your Spirit”. Nowhere. And not because He wants you to “face yourself”, but so that His hand will guide you and His right hand will hold you fast (verse 10).

So that He can be the Light in your darkness. That is why you can’t get away from Him. Because He wants to bring light to you! Again, what a God! What grace!

And then Verse 14. Do you? Do you know full well that you are fearfully and wonderfully made? We love to say this Verse about babies and write it on cards for baby showers along with Verse 13, but do we believe it still applies? I mean, after a little history under our belts, some wrong roads chosen, some sin committed, some regret lodged in our brains, do we still believe it?

When is the last time you praised Him for it? That’s what it says, right? “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” If not, why not? Because you don’t feel so wonderful? Because you feel like you don’t have the right to because you flawed the original design? JOIN THE CLUB SISTER. That’s all of us—that is our story, that is our song. We messed up. We stained ourselves. We did it.

So, wait, does that mean we can no longer praise Him for being fearfully and wonderfully made?  I don’t think any one of you would look me in the eyeballs and say yes to that. And still, many days, our praise stays locked behind closed lips.

And yet, “You know me”, comes first.

He knows.

And that is enough.

Enough reason to praise Him. He knew beforehand that you would mess up. He knew you would blow it. He knew you would blow it before you came to know Jesus and soak in His forgiveness, and He knew you would blow it after that glorious moment.

“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8

He knew alright.

Would you take some time and praise Him today for being fearfully and wonderfully made? Yes, YOU! And me! I am fearfully and wonderfully made, with my dorky love of all things binders. With my advertise-able assets. And with my more numerous unbecoming and embarrassing faults.

All of me. He knows all of me. All of you. He knows all of you.

And YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made. Go on and praise Him for it.

Love you all!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Binders, Anyone?

Jason and I have been watching Parks and Recreation. HILARIOUS. I mean, seriously. To have a 20-minute time block where you just laugh and laugh about pure silliness is refreshing. Can I tell you that I love Leslie Knope? For many, many reasons, but I will only explore one. One is all that is needed.

THE BINDERS. Binders upon binders. She has a binder for everything that comes in her head, in her life, in her work. Did it happen? Then it’s in a binder. Might it happen? Then it’s in a binder. Just last night we watched the episode where someone made a comment about not voting for her because she didn’t seem like someone you could go bowling with. This impacted her. So what did she do?

That’s right! A BINDER.

I love this. If you know me, you know I love this. Everyone made fun of poor Leslie—binders aren’t cool, binders are for the people who stay home on Friday nights and do—what else?—make binders. But you know what? It worked for her! And she was successful doing something out of the ordinary in terms of her culture. Yes, I am totally about to spiritualize Leslie Knope.

1. THAT’S ME!!! I actually have many binders. You don’t know me. I have a lot of business. Everyone ribs me all the time. I have heard things like, “Oh, bless your heart,” and my personal favorite, “Oh. So, wait, this is like old school Pinterest? Like before Pinterest was invented? Like 20 years ago?” Yes. Yes it is.

2. IT WORKED! So what if it wasn’t cool or hip in Leslie’s world? So what if it isn’t cool or hip in my world? So what if whatever you are doing that works for you isn’t you-fill-in-the-blank-for-whatever-you-get-made-fun-of-for? What works for you works for you.  I know this for sure—we stay committed to what works for us.

3. Why, oh why, am I telling you this? You, who may have never even heard of Leslie Knope, bless your heart. Because it got me thinking, and I wanted to share. Someone wrote up Leslie Knope. And all through the television series, her character stayed true to the writer’s vision. Everything was “classic” Leslie Knope. I love it.

I was written by a Writer, too. He has a very specific vision to my life, and sometimes corny things like TV shows jiggle my brain in just the right way to ask me if I am living true to His vision for my character. What if Leslie took a hard turn in season 3 and wanted to be cool like Donna or smooth like Tom? Wouldn’t it jar us viewers?! Wouldn’t we say, “Nooooooo!! We want Leslie back! The real Leslie!”

I know, I know. The super spiritual among you are rolling your eyes. I get it. But for the rest of us: I’m watching your life. I don’t want you to be like Donna or Tom. I want you to be you! I want you to be authentic to the Writer’s vision of you! So rock your silliness!

Seriously—the Writer put things of Himself in you that He didn’t put in me! Yes, we should all have His characteristics in terms of the fruit of the Spirit. We should all be aspiring to walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But how do YOU live out love? And joy—that’s the episode I really want to see. Give me a vision of what peace looks like.

Isn’t that how we learn? I learn from those who are different from me. Who live out God and His ways in a way I haven’t learned yet!

And I could teach you a thing or two about binders.

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Chase.

What if God just dropped down in the middle of your lunch with some girlfriends and pointed at one of them and said, “THIS ONE. This is a woman after my own heart.” After your heart restarted, you would start peppering this one with questions: What’s your secret? What do you do? How has this magical thing happened and how can I get Him to say that about me?!

This is what we explored at Glow this week. Because this has actually been said about someone in the Bible—David. And while I cannot pretend to know all of David’s secrets, I do catch a glimpse of his heart for God in Psalm 27. This is part of what he says there:

“One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.”

One thing. What thing? To always be wherever God was and to behold His beauty.

This kind of desire is not a fleeting wish—to David, it was something worth doing something about.

I know this because he follows it up with the seeking. “That will I seek…” Some versions say, “That I SHALL seek…” It’s a declaration! Because we all know desiring and seeking are two different animals. I can say I want, I want, I want—but if I don’t put feet to that want, those are just fleeing whims, certainly not all consuming desires.

I think this was an all-consuming desire for David. He wasn’t just going to sit around and tell you, or God, that he wanted something. He was going to seek it. Put action to it. Press toward that longing with his actions.

That pressing and drive takes commitment. Without discipline and commitment—That I SHALL seek—even my deepest desires will dwindle down to nothing. And all of a sudden I find myself living a life without desire, without passion for something, without hunger and thirst for God and His promise of abundant life.

Discipline is not a dirty word! Oh, no, I wasn’t telling you that, I was telling myself that. Sometimes my actions say that I expect everything to be handed to me. That I should just *poof!*, have a longing to be with God. But I’m not seeking after having that longing.

Feels sort of like a chicken and egg situation, doesn’t it? What comes first—the desiring or the seeking? In different seasons of my life, it has played out in different ways. But I have learned that the right feelings follow the right actions. Somehow, the wrong feelings arrive all on their own and try to lead me around like a slave to a master. But feelings are not supposed to master me. God, Adonai, is to be my Master. And when I actually put the right actions first, the seeking, the leaning, the pressing in towards God and His grace and love and mercy, I find that miraculously the desire is there.

I’m going to do some seeking this week. Action to light the flame of desire. I’m going to do the things I know to do—limit distractions, clear my schedule to spend some alone time with God, commit to read His Word every day. All the things I already know are good for me, things I already know bring me peace, things I already know give clarity and direction to my life. And I’m going to do those things believing they will be the kindling for the fire of desire that I WANT to have.  Because I do want to want it! I want to want to say one thing I have desired of the Lord, to dwell in Him, to dwell on Him.

Focus. That’s the discipline it takes for me. Not a sideways glance at Him every now and again, but a focus on Him so intent that I not only see Him when the world is shut off from me in my quiet time, but I see Him in my everyday moments. I see His grace at work in the hard things. I see His face in the people around me. I am so wrapped up in desire for Him that I behold His beauty in the sunrise and at the grocery store and while I’m paying my bills and working through my to do list. Because I really want to want that.

I want to dwell in God. Dwell where He is. And I want to dwell on God. Dwell on His love and beauty and majesty and all the good things instead of dwelling on whatever in this crazy world catches my attention at any given moment. So I’m putting some feet to my wants this week. This I shall seek. Go after. Explore. Pursue. Its certainly a desire worth chasing.

Have an amazing day!