Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Faith 'til Death:

[Some thoughts on faith: Still haven't really grasped the full meaning of these verses, but here are some of my initial thoughts.  Would love to hear your thoughts on what you take from them.]

Hebrews 11:39-40
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  

My definition of faith has been put to the test this year.  The main contributor to this challenge has been the list of unknowns that are constantly looming.  It’s hard to have faith in the unknown, in the unseen.  But on the other hand, as I’ve been learning, faith can only truly exist when there are unknowns…when things are unseen.  “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (vs. 1).  Once what is unseen becomes what can be seen, it no longer requires faith.  Once what is hoped for becomes what is actual, faith no longer has a function.

That perspective changes things for me.  I’ve always just assumed that faith brought with it proof- the moving of a mountain, the raising of the dead, the healing of the sick.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe all those things do require true faith…but the height of faith comes in the moments before those things occur.  The power is in the hoped for rather than the actual. Waiting for the mountain to move requires more faith than actually watching it move because faith is birthed in the moments of the unseen.  Faith is birthed in the unknown.

That perspective changes things for me because, now, I survey my life with a different measure of faith.  Rather than count the miracles I have witnessed (which I can maybe count on one hand) or the answered prayers…I now look at faith in a new way…I look for the "moments before".  I look for the fertile soil in my life in which God may plant His seeds of faith.  The vague future…the unanswered questions…the prayers still waiting to be crossed off the list…a faith that stands sure in what is hoped for, and certain of what is still unseen.  A faith that continues to believe, even in the face of death.

That verse never struck me so much as it did this time around.  I’ve loved chapter 11 of Hebrews- the “faith hall of fame” as they called it.  The stories of heroes of faith.  Heroes who saw God at work and gave their all for His name.  What solidified their faith even more to me was when I grasped that small verse at the very end, those few words that finally made so much sense in light of the definition of faith: “yet none of them received what had been promised”.  Men and women who were so certain of the unseen that even in their dying moments- having never seen- they held on to their faith, because they knew their God.  And with the voice of Job I hear these faithful say, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15).

I want this kind of faith.  A faith that is not rooted in the end result, but rooted only in Him.  A faith that doesn’t end with the miracle, but is fueled by it.  A faith that holds fast in the face of the unknown, in the face of the uncertain, and even continues in the face of death. 

Lord, thank you for the unknowns, creating fertile soul for our faith.  We put our hope in You.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rainbow Covenant::

Genesis 9:13-14
I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and a rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you…

John and I went fishing yesterday.  For those of you who know either of us, that idea in and of itself is probably all you need to be humored.  Our idea of the great outdoors involves sipping on cold drinks and looking out the window of our cozy hotel room.  But nonetheless, we were invited to a gorgeous lake owned by a friend, and it sounded like a good time.

We loaded onto a big red tractor (I think it’s called a tractor), and headed through cornfields on the way to the lake.  Sure enough, just as they said it would be- it was breathtaking.  The beautiful lake sat in a country bed of greenery, far away from any possible man-made distractions. 

We got our fishing gear and headed out to fish.  As much as I’d love to share about our fishing experience, I’ll spare you the details and move on to the best part (but first, can I just say I caught my first fish within 3 minutes of fishing…).  After a few hours, the sunlight slowly slipped away and gray clouds began to move in. 

Then the most beautiful thing I have ever seen appeared in the clouds.  It’s presence came unexpectedly, without warning, but all of a sudden- there it was.  As colorful and brilliant as though it were hand painted into the canvas of the sky.  So close to us that it felt as though we could have reached out and touched it.  Causing us all to put down our gear, close our mouths, and just gaze in awe.  A beautiful rainbow. 

I’ve been thinking about this rainbow since yesterday evening.  As beautiful as that rainbow was, more beautiful to me is the profound promise that it symbolizes: God’s faithfulness.  Through the rainbow, God established his covenant with Noah.  Whenever the clouds of doubt and suffering would begin to settle, the rainbow would appear, piercing the gray haze with it’s brilliance.  

The beauty of a covenant- is that it is not dependent on us.  The beauty of a covenant is that it solely represents the one who established it, not tainted by the give and take that comes with agreements.  The beauty of a covenant, is that it is based on God’s faithfulness and not our own.  I am grateful for this.  I am grateful because I know my tendency to wander.  I know my tendency to worry.  I know my tendency to allow the clouds of fear and doubt to settle into the deepest parts of my heart and mind.  It is in those moments, that God’s covenant rainbow illuminates the darkness of my infidelity, reminding me again of His faithfulness. 

Maybe you, too, have wandered far.  Maybe you have struggled with the fear and doubt that comes with peering into the future.  Maybe you have allowed the darkness of self-sufficiency to dim your vision.  Maybe you have wondered if God even remembers you.  Maybe you have feared that He would not come through.

Today, take time to remember His covenant with you.  Take time to remember the things He has promised, whatever they may be.  Take time to allow yourself to enter into the deepest parts of your doubt and your fears- inviting His rainbow covenant to shine through.  Reminding you of His unending love and fidelity.  

Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hypocrisy II:

My friend Andrew recently emailed me some thoughts regarding my last post.  He said there was a new movie coming out that had a similar message.  Here's part of the email he sent:

I heard there was this quote in there that was in synch w/ Deb's blog..."The Church is the body of Christ. For the past fifty years, the hands and feet have been amputated, and all we've been is a big mouth"

The new movie is called: Lord, Save Us From Your Followers...and actually comes out today in theaters.  I'm posting the link he sent me.  Maybe it's finally time for the church to rekindle its urgency and begin living a Christ inspired life.

Check it out and let me know your thoughts.  Thanks Andrew, for the thoughts. 

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


So, I'm totally new to this whole blogging thing...as you may have noticed.  I think I can officially say I win the prize for the most bland-looking blog in America.  But, I guess you can't judge a book by it's cover.  All you real bloggers out there, feel free to offer some tips on jazzing up your blog :)  I figured out how to add a picture today...I'm proud of myself.  Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm going to be posting every single day (unless you people start commenting...is there life out there?? :) ...but, either way, there is one thing I want to share today. 

I've been camping out in the book of Zechariah lately.  It's one of those hidden treasures.  I think all the minor prophets are.  Books we forget about many times, but they are loaded with life changing truth.  So, I wrote this last night.  Hope it convicts you like it did me...

Zechariah 9:23

Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.

Maybe you’ve noticed.  Maybe you haven’t.  Either way, one thing is clear- Christians today have a bad reputation.  I was in a group recently that was discussing the topic of the persecuted church.  We were conversing about the challenges that Scripture depicts Christians will face on account of their faith.  The reality is, there will be a day when we are persecuted for our faith, that is- our true faith…for some believers in parts of the eastern world- that day is already here.

Then one of the group members said something profound.  Something that has stuck with me ever since.  “The problem is that many Christians are being persecuted today…not because of their faith, but because of their lack of faith.  They’re hypocrites.  They bring it on themselves”.  That statement hasn’t left me.  In fact, from the moment it was uttered it’s been close to my thoughts.  One reason may be that it came from the mouth of an unbeliever, hardened and tainted by the experiences he’s had on account of “Christ-followers”.  Another reason may be that I see myself in that statement…lacking in faith, and many times a hypocrite in my actions and deep within my heart.

I’m saddened by this type of Christianity.  The type of Christianity that is filled with judgment, preconceived ideas, and prejudice.  The type of Christianity that is bloated with pride, allowing the failures and inadequacies of others to become a breeding ground for condemnation.  The type of Christianity which pushes others away and leaves a bad taste in the mouth of unbelievers.  The type of Christian that grieves the heart of Christ.

Instead, I want to be the type of Christian in sync with the words of this verse.  The type of Christian that people are instantly drawn to because of the clear Presence of God in my life. The type of Christian who is a safe place from the scoffs and scorns of this harsh world.  The type of Christian who exudes a love beyond all other loves, offers healing to the broken hearted, and wipes the tears of those who mourn.  The type of Christian who’s reputation goes before him, paving the way for the glory of our Lord.   A Christian who’s life is evidence of one thing and one thing alone.  A Christianity which causes nonbelievers to pause and proclaim, “Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you”.

Christians, may we come to terms with the reality of our sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle hypocrisy.  May we come begging for forgiveness from the ones who we have harmed with our carelessness.  May we learn to lay down our masks of religion, instead learning the art of intimate relationship through Christ.  May we live a life that exemplifies to the world that truly, our God is with us.  And in the end, may they go with us.

Lord, forgive us for our hypocrisy.  Teach us to live our lives worthy of your Presence.  Teach us to lead others to you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Routine Faith:

It's so easy to get caught up in our routines. Somehow those things that should be in the background of our lives find their way to the forefront. This reflection is a challenge to step back and be set free from the chains of our routine.

Zechariah 7:5

Ask the people of the land and the priests, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?”

We function on routine. In fact, we find comfort in the predictability that routine offers. We know that each day the sun will rise and that it will set. We know that we will pass through twenty four hours in a day, and seven days in a week. We have our daily schedules planned, and our alarm clocks set for the same time each day. There is a sense of power that comes in being in control of our routine, until of course that routine begins to control us. For many of us, that loss of control is so subtle that is goes unnoticed until the damage is done.

In Zechariah 7, God is warning His people of the danger of their routine, and questioning the motives of their heart. For seventy years, year after year they had held a fast in honor of Him. And although originally inspired by the gratitude and love in their hearts, slowly this sacrifice became a mere part of their routine. A habitual response that was losing it’s fervor with every passing year. There hearts were no longer in it. They were so accustomed to the habit of their worship, that somehow through the rigidness of their schedules, God had been cast aside and neglected.

How many of us can relate? How many of us can remember a time where the routine of our spirituality replaced our passion for the Lord? Our prayers became dull and ritualistic? Our worship reduced to words on a page? How many of us have exchanged that uninhibited joy that came with entering His presence, for a dull and dry sense of accomplishing “that task”. Another line crossed through our mental list of things to do. How many of us would confess that through our constrained routine of spirituality, we were no longer free to really be with Him? We were worshiping our routine, rather than our Lord.

Today may we be challenged to step back from our lens of routine and take a new look at our faith. May we take a good look at our lives and confess the complacency that has taken root in the dull soil of our rituals. May we get desperately on our knees and beg for God to restore to us the passion that we once had. May we be begin to wake up daily, taking the false perception of control that we so eagerly cling to, and hand it over to Him. And in turn, may He ignite in us a passion for Him far beyond the walls of our routine faith. May He fill us with a radical love that penetrates into every part of our lives. And may He shatter the comfortable bubble that we have built around ourselves, inviting us into His unpredictable presence.

Lord, forgive us for our routine faith; a faith that has so many times become about habit rather than about You. Take back your rightful place in our lives, so that we can once again live in nothing less than awe.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All the Single Ladies:

A few days ago, my husband and I were watching the television show called Planet Earth. You may be familiar with it. Videographers enter into some of the most intricate and untread parts of our planet and capture it on film. This particular episode was about animals of the jungles. How does this pertain to single ladies? Well, I’m getting there…

One thing is for sure: you cannot help but witness the extravagant displays on this earth without standing in awe of the Creator himself. God was so deliberate as he intimately wove the fabrics of this earth together, from animals to plants to human beings. I believe that we can learn so much about life by getting a glimpse into His creation.

You see, as I was watching the dynamics of birds mating, and as I listened to the commentator discuss the procedure- I couldn’t help but parallel these truths with our own human relationships. In looking at birds, I wonder if we’ve somehow gotten it all backwards. Let me give you a few of my observations:

The first thing I noticed was that it was the male birds who were extravagant and ornate. Bright and beautiful colors and patterns, lavish feathers of all shapes and sizes, loud and boisterous chirps and calls. But the females, well, they were “modest” as the commentator pointed out. Plain in their appearance. Dull colors, quiet chirps. They were out simply to be won, with no need to dress or impress.

The commentator also pointed out that the females were very picky. Even with the bright colors and bold noises of the males, it would take nothing short of an outstanding performance for them to even have a shot with the highly valued females. Nothing short of magnificence. Nothing.

I look at these standard in light of my past experiences. I look at them in light of the experiences of countless women I meet every day. I look at them in light of story after story of broken hearts and a desperate desire to be loved, to be valued. It seems as though our culture has really set us up for despair.

We live in a society that is completely opposed to this model of pursuit. We’ve adapted a currency of value that has nothing to do with true love, and everything to do with sex appeal, fashion, and beauty. A culture that has fooled women into believing that they must earn the right to be loved. A culture in which we have become the pursuer rather than the pursued- dancing around, ruffling our feathers, showing off our colors in the desperation of finding someone to love us…all the while trying to convince ourselves that we are worth being loved. A culture of women no longer believing they have the right to be picky, but rather to, “take what you can get”. A culture that has forgotten that they are worth remarkable, and that they are worth magnificent.

As I reflect on these things I’m left with a prayer:

Women, may you be challenged to acknowledge and accept your true value in the eyes of your Creator. May you be strengthened to settle for nothing less than seeing that level of worth in the eyes of the one who pursues you.

Men, may you be challenged to become more and more magnificent and remarkable as you draw closer to the One who created you, relying on his sanctification at work in your life to produce in you this level of splendor.

And may you then come together in the beautiful unity of relationships. A beauty that reflects the majesty and the brilliance of our Creator.

All the single ladies…be encouraged.

Planet Earth Clip:


Monday, September 21, 2009

Moments in the Desert:

This is one of the first reflections I wrote a few years ago...in fact, it's this reflection that inspired me to pursue stillness in the first place. May it do the same for you.

Hosea 2:13
“She decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot”, declares the Lord. “Therefore, I am now going to allure her. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”

I wake up, wishing I could sleep just a little longer, and drag myself out of bed. The main thing on my mind is my self. What to wear. Brush my teeth. Look in the mirror. Think of my schedule. List of to-do’s.

And I am consumed- even if so innocently- consumed with myself. I am the love of my life at these shallow moments of waking. Stripped of all my inhibitions, when no one is looking, I find that there is only myself. I am the lover of my own soul.

Like the woman in Hosea, I continue on through the day, only aware of myself, living to please myself, to impress those around me with beauty, humor, spirituality and good deeds.

And all the while, despite my selfishness, God is beckoning for me to come. “Come to my side, come and meet me. Come, put yourself aside and walk toward my voice”. Beckoning faithfully, he whispers to me throughout the day alluring me with His words of love.

And when I am finally able to follow his voice, he takes me and strips me of my “decent” appearance, and pulls me into the dry desert so that my wandering eyes have no where else to look but to Him. And there he speaks to me, there he gently reminds me that this world has so very little to offer. There, he tenderly tells me that I am his beloved, and He is mine. There he tells me that this is where the greatest joys can be found. And he is right, because only there, have I ever felt such love. And it is beautiful and perfect with Him. And I find that He is all that I ever wanted and needed.

I leave the desert and enter into my life again. This time, the world becomes so gray unless it is identified with Him- for now I realize there is nothing worth glancing at, nothing worth aiming for, nothing worth investing in- unless it can bring me back to Him.

Lord, pull me into solitude with you...speak tenderly to your child. Be the lover that consumes my mind this day.

Lessons Learned:

My new year's resolution this year was to work on a book. It's one of those things that's always been looming around in the back of my mind. But since January, I've decided to take this ambition seriously...and my world of writing has quickly expanded. God has faithfully met me in my pursuits. Not only that, He has nurtured my desire for writing by revealing more and more of Himself through His words, and in fact, through my own thoughts and reflections on His words.

I've gotten so much encouragement from friends and family alike regarding these reflections, and so I guess this is my next step in sharing the lessons I've been learning through this experience. My lessons learned while being still...because in the stillness, somehow God's voice is so much clearer. So much stronger.

May you, reader, find encouragement in these words, and may they somehow inspire you too to seek out His gentle whispers in your own life.