Sunday, June 18, 2017

Conversations With the Creator

Recently I had the pleasure of exploring Chimney Bluffs State Park on Lake Ontario. Breathtaking views of the jagged clay bluffs and the Caribbean flavor of eastern Lake Ontario await those who traverse the high trail. Even the forest has a wild jungle feel.


 There is more than one trail to choose from; naturally I chose the one nearest the edge...just the right amount of pleasurably perilous for my taste!


After passing the wave of cliffs jutting into the blue, the bluff becomes gradually less steep. The water calls me. Far be it from me to pass up a favorable opportunity to get down to the strip of pebbled beach and meet the cold thrill! My slippery trip down the muddy bank is rewarded by a plethora of intriguing rocks worthy of a nature lover's collection. I am happily occupied with this treasure hunt for some time.


Presently I rest on a fallen log, my catch of stones secured in my pack, and I pull out my journal. Nothing is more inspiring for me than writing in the middle of creation's glory. As I muse over water and rock, clay and root, I write...I converse with my Creator in my favorite language.


Creator God--You have put so much in this world to delight us! Today my heart wonders at these things:

The fresh scent of rain, the cadence of it against roofs and windows--now pattering, now pouring.
The greens of the forest, the variety of trees, bark, and leaves, the air sweet with blossoms. The mysterious magnetism of a packed dirt path winding through jungle.
The incredible artistry in rock! Size and shape, variegated colors and patterns, and a million variations of each.
The way You planned out how the forces of nature--wind and water and earthquakes and volcanoes--would affect and shape the elements, like rock and trees, sand, and mud cliffs.
The crash of waves on a beach. The soothing ebb and flow. The thrill of cold water rushing up over feet and legs.
The trilling of birds, and the way the most unassuming little sparrow reminds me of Your kind and tireless care.

Yet nature in all her glory can but speak broken phrases in the volumes of descriptive language that could be written, if there were such a worthy language, to express the beauty and wisdom and power and mercy and infinity of Your God-ness!

Why, oh why, do I ever desire anything besides You, God?

Why this fear and unbelief that leads me to doubt Your infinite goodness, perfect love, and kind, tenderhearted engagement in my greatest good--and that You would make my good fit within Your greatest glory?

Why the endless, mindless, obstinate, and deliberate chasing of pleasure placebos that can never fulfill me? Why the desperate struggle to hold on to these useless attempts to imitate the pleasure and satisfaction found in Your presence alone?

Why can I not remain at rest in you, my Vine?

Why do I continuously cast up these paltry pleasures within my soul like the restless waves of the sea upon land? You Yourself set the boundary for the seas. You said, "This far you shall come, and no further." And so it is with my fleshly pleasures. They can only go so far--they are trapped by a boundary set by Your mercy--they can never take me to real pleasure, the kind that fulfills my soul. Instead they leave me thirsty and hollow, always needing more.

Yet no matter how long I toss and foam, You wait for me to come to You. You pursue me; I cannot hide from Your presence. You wait for me to come to my senses and abandon myself to the Fountain of Life, my source and my salvation and my eternal pleasure!

Will I embrace Your freedom?

You wait.








Thursday, May 4, 2017

Elvish Musings


If I could live a fantasy, I'd be a wood-elf dwelling in Tolkien's legendary Rivendell. I cannot imagine anything closer to Paradise on this earth. A marvel of nature and high creativity, a haven of sacred beauty. Protected by stalwart stone cliffs, the water catapulting from dizzying heights and glittering millions of diamonds in moonlight. I would be intimately acquainted with all green and growing things and healing arts. The forest would be to me as a second skin. Life would be a graceful dance of starlight, rivers, trees, music, and wild things. Nothing would make me afraid, for I would be immortal, belonging to the Undying Lands, far wiser and stronger and skilled beyond the ways of mortal men. I'd be a fierce warrior and an even fiercer lover - binding myself to an immortal love that I would hold forever with a single heart.

But I am immortal. I am a citizen of the Undying Lands, an heiress to unimaginable wealth and glory, a vessel filled with light and hope and power far beyond the understanding of mortal flesh and mind. I flow with the rivers of Life that bring restoration to a dying world.

And if that were not enough, I belong to a Love that is eternal, unfading; higher, wider, deeper, and stronger than anything this world of flesh can contain. This Love is stronger than death and has the last word beyond time, space, flesh, and the grave. Nothing can ever quench my Love or separate me from Him! This Love will not let me go!

He died for me. He paid the ultimate price to make me His bride. But death could not keep Him, for He is the Author of Life itself! My Hero vanquished death, obliterated my sin that held me captive, and called me from the thrall of the dark lord into His Sovereign realm of life and love and light!

Now I am one with Him....forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever....beyond the grey shadows of this fading world to the bright Undying Lands...to infinity and beyond!

"And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it. And His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there. They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
"And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."
-Revelation 22:3-5, 17

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Threat...or a Promise?

Five months ago, God drew me into a unique fellowship called D-Group. It's been one of the best decisions of my life. Every week, I meet with a special group of sisters who are pursuing Jesus, seeking to be His disciples, and spurring one another on in our love for Him. Together, we study the Word, hide the Truth in our hearts, confess our sins, pray for one another, and hold each other accountable to grow up in every way into Christ.

We've started off the new year diving deep into the book of Romans. This may seem a well-worn book for many of us, but the Word of God is alive, and so it never fails to amaze with new treasure and fresh revelations of our Life-Giver. Today I opened the pages to read an oh-so-familiar portion from Romans chapter 8, and lo and behold...He's doing it again! Breathing new life into my bones. May I blow a bit of it your way?

What threatens you right now? Changing circumstances? Financial hardship? Relational pain? Sickness? A difficult person? A tough job? Impossible expectations? The loss of something precious? The unknown? 

Whatever it may be, we all have something that shadows us with dread, those things that we view as threats to our well-being. 

I find it fascinating that Romans 8:31 begins in this way: "What then shall we say to these things?" 

What things?

If you back-track to what Paul has just been discussing (verses 18-30), he seems to be referring to those things that we naturally confront as threats. 

Suffering. That covers a lot. Life in this world hurts. 

Futility and corruption. Paul says the whole creation groans in this bondage. The twisted fingers of sin have touched and marred every part of the perfect beauty that God first spoke into being. 

Waiting. An unfulfilled longing for something we desperately want but don't have. 

Weakness. Oh, how we hate this reality of our fallen humanity. We treat it like a despised disease. We search for a cure. We'll do everything in our power to gild over the cracks and make it look like we have it all together, while everything inside is falling apart. 

The fear of what will happen. It's not named, but implied. We fear the unknown ahead because we believe that bad things will happen.

One more threat I see implied in this passage: the fear of walking through life unknown, unloved, and purposeless. That can suck a soul dry.

What, indeed, shall we say to THESE THINGS?

Let's finish Paul's thought: "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

This, Beloved, is what we can say! But how can we be sure that God is for us? Lean in; look closer. Do you see it? Every potential threat in this passage is paired with a promise from our Father!

God IS for us--because He is preparing to reveal a glory in and to us that is indescribably greater than our present sufferings.

God IS for us--because He has adopted us as His sons and daughters, and He has promised to restore all things in us and in creation that have been corrupted by sin.

God IS for us--because He's given us the hope of a glorious future and the grace to wait for it with patience.

God IS for us--because He's given us His Spirit to help us in our weakness and to intercede for us.

God IS for us--because He works ALL THINGS together for our good. Nothing that is truly bad can happen to the child of God. Even what the enemy means for evil, God means for good to us. In the end, everything, whether we see it as good or bad, plays into God's hands.

God IS for us--we can never be unknown, unloved, or purposeless, because He knew us even before he formed the world, and He has chosen us, called us to be His own, justified and glorified us!

Now stay with me....it gets even better! Paul introduces a beautiful progression in verse 34: "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us."

Jesus died so your sin-enslaved self could die with Him. Then He was raised so you could be raised with Him to a new life, free to be all you were created to be! And not only that, but He is at the right hand of God, so that you can be with Him right now in the heavenly places--and not only that, but He is always interceding for you! Jesus never rests from representing you before the Father as your advocate, your justifier, and your interceder! Beloved, you are hidden WITH Christ IN God! Nothing can threaten you in this place...NOTHING!

So I can say with Paul...I AM SURE...that nothing will be able to separate me from the love of my Father in Yeshua, the Son! Consider this...nothing can ever separate the Son from the Father's love and their perfect union as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So because you are IN THE SON, nothing can ever separate you, IN THE SON, from the Father's love and from eternal union with God!

I AM SURE.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ride That Slide!

Today's story comes to you complements of my mom.

My little bro, Justin, is a wonderfully unintentional teacher at times. Last weekend, he got to visit a fun farm with Mom and some of his sibling buddies. This farm features a corn maze and a lot of other delightful attractions, including America's Longest Slide!

In case you ever happen to encounter this prestigious slide, you should know how to get the best ride out of it. First, grab your feed sack. Get situated on top of the sack, then pull your feet in and hug your knees to your chest to make yourself into a bullet. Make sure no part of your body is touching the slide....push off and let gravity do the rest!

Justin, however, has never been through Sliding 101 and has his own ideas of how to make this work.

Each time the next row of sliders gets into position, the slide monitor gives his little spiel, including the following admonition: "Do not hold onto the sides of the slide on your way down!"

Justin is not listening to the speech, nor does he care. All he's focused on is getting his feed sack and making sure his buddies are beside him and going down! And every time he went down, he tried to control his descent by grabbing onto the edges on either side of his lane. The result was that he toppled backwards, had no control over his body, and ended up spinning sideways, losing his feed sack, and once even crossed halfway into another lane before coming to a stop with about 15 feet of slide left!  He then tried to propel himself forward using his hands, in order to get to the bottom of the slide. He found out the first time that trying to stand up and walk to the bottom was not a good idea!

Please enjoy the visual demonstration below! (You can see better if you make it bigger. Justin is the one in the middle.)



video



Maybe you've never tried to stop yourself mid-slide on a sliding board. But have you ever approached life this way? Do you sometimes try to control the trajectory of your life...in your job, in circumstances, in finances, in relationships? Have you ever tried to confine parts of your life into a box, like a safe zone, rather than face something unknown that feels wild and scary? We may even see this as being smart, cautious, and wise. But what if the cost of caution is our freedom? What if we never experience the fullness of the life God has for us because we're focused on playing it safe? 

Take a lesson from Justin. You may end up knocked on your back, or turned sideways, or prematurely running out of momentum! 


What if, instead, we make ourselves less...get small and let God be bigger? What if we just relax and fall into Jesus and let the Holy Spirit take us like gravity? What if we let Him make us brave and take the adventure that comes to us from His hand? Sure, it's scary...but we might be amazed how much fun life can be! 


If my life and yours are God's work of art, we can trust Him to keep us on track. He has a hope and a future prepared for us beyond anything we can imagine! 


So let go of the sides....let go the fears, the doubts, the insecurities, the self-protection, the pride...we weren't made to hang onto these. They're thieves that steal joy and mar peace. They only drag us down and hold us back. The only thing we need to cling to is Jesus. 


"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10


ENJOY THE RIDE! AND DON'T FORGET TO SAY "WHEEEEEEEEE!'

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I Am

Awhile ago, I watched this spoken word poem by David Bowden. And it inspired me. I sat with my journal and wrote what I heard God speaking to my soul. He knows exactly what we need and He speaks the language of our hearts. This is my I Am poem. If it encourages you today, thank Him.


I Am....with you - right now, right here
In the uncertainty, the emotion, the excitement, and the fear
I Am your Wisdom and your Way
The Voice that tells you go or stay
I Am your Future and your Hope
Place your expectation in Me alone
I Am your Father, I Am your Friend
I am He who loves you fully, without end
I am the One who draws you near
Counts every sigh and every tear
I Am your Beautiful Obsession
Your Freedom from every dark oppression
I Am there when you've lost your way
And when all forsake you, I will stay
I Am greater than your pain
I'm turning your losses into gain
You're never alone, never unloved
Never unwanted, unknown, or unsung

Because I Am....

With you always, loving you to eternity and back
Knowing you fully, and singing over you with joy
In Me you have no lack
I breathed you into life
Chosen before the birth of Time

Come, Beloved
Let your heart beat with Mine

Lose yourself in Me

For....I Am.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What He Sees

Hey. I'm back. No excuses, and no apologies. I just need to write. So I want to share something precious Jesus gave me a few weeks ago.

I'm reading a book called The Forgotten Way by Ted Dekker, and working through the companion meditation/devotional book. One of the questions dealt with how you think God sees you. As I worked through the suggested exercise, this is what Jesus put on my heart.

I close my eyes and imagine Jesus standing in front of me. He knows how I'm falling again, right now. He knows all about my fightings and fears and the countless unanswered questions about the place I'm in and the way I'm supposed to go. He knows how I'm running after my old self-soothing patterns, running everywhere but to the Fountain of Life. What does He do? What does He say as He looks at me?

I see Him smile at me with a tender gaze that cuts straight through my soul, yet is only full of light, love, and pleasure. He takes both my hands in His and draws me closer. I think He even kneels down to look up into my face like a parent does with a child, or a man with his beloved. And this is what I hear:

"Look at Me, Beloved. If you only knew what you are going to be! What I am making you! If you could see what I see...a lovely garden in full bloom, fragrant with My favorite perfumes, bearing fruit that feeds the hungry, yet never runs out...fruit that delights My soul! I delight in you! I want you...My daughter, my chosen, my beloved! Don't you remember? I died so you could be with me forever...that's how much I want you. And I long for you to delight in Me. I will not force you; delight cannot be forced. I want you to delight in Me because you love Me more than anything, because you have tasted that I am good and I satisfy Your deepest hunger!

 I love you. Endlessly.

My love is not threatened by your present behavior, or by anything you will do in the future. My love for you is not measured by your level or lack of desire, surrender, passion, or faith. My love for you, daughter, is measureless and limitless. I don't see what you are now, in the skin of earth. The veil of mortality is invisible to My eyes and I see what you will be. I see My own reflection in your eyes and in your soul! Come to Me and I will satisfy you! Look to Me and I will save you! Walk with Me and I will carry you when you cannot take another step.

Don't listen to the poison whispers of the snake. I hurt for you when you listen and believe his accusations. That is not who you are. You are Mine! Not half Mine. Not sometimes Mine. Fully Mine! The evil one cannot touch you. He can only cast an illusion of darkness around you, and only if you allow him. Open your eyes, my Love! I'm right here...I'm always here with You! I am in you...closer than your heartbeat!

You are untouchable because you are Mine. You are unstoppable because you are Mine. Nothing can threaten you.

NOTHING.

Because it's all about who I am making of you. And at the end of it all, you will still be safe in Me. With Me.

And you will be like Me, because you will finally see Me as I am. And so you will see yourself in My eyes.

It's all true. WAKE UP, Sleeping Beauty! Remember WHO I AM! I Am your Truth. I Am your Way. And I Am your Life."


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Is It Sufficient?

I realized something today.

All of my life, I have battled this fear that my relationship with God is insufficient. It has manifested in every part of my life. I believed I was never enough. Not pretty enough, not talkative enough, not like-able enough, not talented enough, not sociable enough, not funny enough, not desirable enough, not faithful enough, not good enough, not spiritual enough.....just not enough.

So I poured my energies into creating this world in my head where I could be enough. A world where I could be everything I ever wanted to be and have everything I ever imagined would make me complete; in this world, I was the heroine of my own story. All of this was a pathetic attempt to substitute for my "not enough".

It is no easy thing to crawl out of a fortress of false security. To walk away from your perfect world. To tear down your castles in the sky and come face to face with the raw truth that you don't have to be enough. You don't have to build a kingdom of "enough", because this isn't home. And it's not your kingdom anyway.

Do you feel unequal to the journey? The journey of walking by faith, of following Jesus, of obeying God, of loving Him with all your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself? Do you feel unequal to the mission of building Christ's kingdom on earth, of preaching the gospel, of making disciples, of fighting the armies of hell? I know. I've been there. I've camped out there for a long, long time. Not enough. Unequal to the task. Unprepared. Unable to rise to the challenge. Inadequate. Insignificant. Insufficient.

In recent weeks, God has pinpointed this fear in me: I'm afraid that my relationship with Him is not sufficient and never will be. I've been looking at it this way: I don't bring enough to this relationship. I have always wanted to be able to bring enough. But I can't. I bring nothing. Jesus brings all And He gives me His own life, His own beauty, His own faithfulness, His own obedience, His own love....everything that I can offer back to Him!

Today I had a revelation....I don't want a relationship with God that is sufficient. Why would I ever settle for merely sufficient? Who in their right mind is truly satisfied with a marital relationship or a friendship that is just "sufficient"?

I want a crazy, vibrant, insanely awesome intimacy with Jesus! I want a relationship that never stands still, that keeps moving forward, exploring more of His wonder and opening myself more fully to Him every day! It's the kind of relationship I didn't truly believe I could have with Him. But He's breaking down the walls.

So I'm changing my mind.

I do believe I can have this....I believe this is the life Jesus came to give me...anything less is cheating myself and the world around me that desperately needs to see what life is.

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul expresses the truth that can set us free from the bondage to self-sufficiency:
"Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."

The walls of self-sufficiency, the towers of duty, the banners of the letter of the law that say I must be enough are crumbling to the dust. I can move forward in my relationship with Christ with full confidence, knowing that He is sufficient to bring life to the world and build His kingdom and shine His light through me!

I believe!