Tuesday, October 25, 2016

My Time?

LORD, I pray that in this entire day before me, You would so direct my thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions so that they will be pleasing to You.  You are the loving Master and LORD of all there is, including me.  "My time" is a total misnomer. Because You have loved me and given Yourself for me, I belong to You, everything I am and have belongs to You.  And yet, I so often think that once our quiet time is over, the rest of the day is "mine."  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yet, even if I want to do something "for me," with my time, what better object of my attention than the sovereign, wonderful, loving Ruler of the Universe? What better fulfillment could there possibly be?  Why would I choose my occupations, my fulfillment (trifles!) when YOU are mine and I am Yours?!  Precious Father, Jesus my Rescuer, and sweet Spirit, please move me all day long to find my greatest delight and joy in You.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Prayer for Seeing with Gospel Eyes

Lord of Hosts

Open our eyes to see the evidences of your grace throughout this day
Open our ears to hear the preaching of your Gospel through the mouths of our friends
Open our hearts to behold and marvel at the glories of who you are and what you've done since ages past, and
Open our minds to grasp the excellencies of your very precious Word preserved for us in the pages of our Bibles.

We are in need, Father; help us to open our mouths so that you might fill us
We are in need of seeing you more and more for who you really are in your glory and sufficiency, to give us the perspective we need
We are in need of your comfort, your conviction, your assurances of your sufficiency for all things.
We are in need of being reminded that the Gospel is the power of salvation and sanctification,
We are in need of your perspective for all the turmoil and suffering we see in this world, and to remember that you alone hold all the answers, all the power, all the grace that we need for today.  
And we need to be reminded that you will supply all that we need for life and godliness according to the riches of our glorious inheritance.  

All of this is because we have You, Jesus. I have no merit of my own to approach You, yet because of Jesus Christ I may come boldly before You and I know that You will welcome me not because of anything good I've done, but because of all that Jesus has done.

The only reason I am able to ask any of these is because the precious and only begotten Son of the Father lived the life I should have lived and did it all perfectly, lovingly, for your glory, and then yielded up his life as an atoning sacrifice for my sins, taking the wrath that was due to me for my rebellion, and giving me instead His own perfect righteousness, forgiveness and justification. And to top it all off, You have graciously adopted me, the proud rebel-now-reborn, as a child of the King. You've also sealed and filled me with your wonderful Holy Spirit, providing your presence within me now, and I get to be with You forever. Hallelujah!

Thank You!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Thanks and Refreshing Grace

Good morning!  It's been years since anything was posted in this space, and I had very nearly forgotten all about it.  That is, until I read Out of the Ordinary's blog this morning (http://out-of-theordinary.blogspot.ca) and there was this little link in the upper right-hand corner, to my blog.  Which happens because we both happen to use the same "blogspot" vehicle.  Anyhoo,,,,,

Things for which I am thankful:
1) Jesus, and the unsearchable riches we find IN HIM, in relationship with him and our union with him.  Eph. 1:3-14; Titus 3:3-7
2) The family into which God has placed me, my dear husband and best friend (Fred).  My Mom and Dad whose birthdays on earth would have been celebrated this month, but now they're with Jesus, and I think every day is a birthday celebration there! My brother and his wife, my twin nieces and their family who are up in Oregon (note the photo!!)
3) My church family at Redeemer Church of Bakersfield (http://www.redeemerbakersfield.org), where we are fed and nourished with the aforementioned unsearchable riches of Christ (see No, 1, above!).
4) Current crop of great worship music from Austin Stone, Indelible Grace, Sovereign Grace (Kauflin, etc.), Audrey Assad, Keith and Kristen Getty.
5) My peeps at 2 retirement homes in Bakersfield where we get to study the Word together, one of which has been going on for years, and the other, just a bit less than a year.  Dear people of my parents' generation who love the Word, the promises, the daily bread-ness of Bible nourishment.  Precious!!
6) Our Redeemed Life Group, prayer group, Women2Women, and informal One2Ones as we all meet together and preach the Gospel to one another and help each other live out the redeemed life in the midst of a culture that pulls us in 19 different directions at once, some of them not-so-bad but most of them alien to the body of Christ.  We are being the church wherever we go and we get to travel on this road together.  Is that a great gift, or what?!?!?  YES!!

So, anyhoo.  That's the post. That photo up there is of a wonderful pool of water on a trail you can take up the Gorge (Columbia River, Oregon side).  The pool is refreshing on a hot summer hike.  May you find the refreshment you need in the person and work of Jesus, who loves you and gave himself for you.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Best Thing to Do for Your Pastors and Elders: PRAY!

OK - here are two months' worth of suggestions on how to pray for your pastors and elders. Half of them (mixed all together) were taken from Nancy Leigh DeMosss' "31 Days of Praying for Your Pastor." the other half came from our journey with our church and from reading Tullian Tchividjian's Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

So, please use these prayers verbatim, as suggestions, as prompts -- but whatever you do, PRAY!

Month One:

Day 1. Pray that your pastors will love God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength. Pray that God's Spirit will work in their hearts in power and that they will value and follow biblical priorities. (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 6:33). pray for confidence and humility: that they would walk in power and authority to lead, all the while kneeling in humility as gentle shepherds who care for people’s souls.

Day 2. Pray that your pastors will understand more and more every day the magnificence of God, His sufficiency, His holiness, His love, His Justice, His sovereignty and His power.

Day 3. Pray that your pastors will cultivate strong character and uncompromising integrity. Pray that their testimony will be genuine, and that they will never do anything that they would need to hide from others. (1 Tim. 1:5, 3:7; Eph. 6:10-12)

Day 4. Pray that your pastors will delve into God's Word to understand the Gospel, and that God will drive the Gospel truth and all its implications into their hearts, souls and minds.

Day 5. Pray that their teaching, sermons and counseling will be consistent with the truth of the Gospel, and that they won't drift into moralism or performance or rule-keeping, etc.

Day 6. Pray for your pastors' personal walks with God, that each one's soul and spirit will be nourished and strengthened in their quiet times with God, beyond their sermon preparation. Pray that they will spend more time in the Word of God than reading Christian books and articles. (Mark 1:35; 2 Tim. 2:15-16) Pray that each will have God's heart of shepherding love for all the members of their flocks.

Day 7. Pray that your pastors will find in Jesus the everything that their hearts were designed to yearn for, in Him alone. Help them to discover the true riches of their glorious inheritance in Him and in His glorious Gospel. May these truths become part of their hearts and minds and that God will empower and infuse their preaching with them.

Day 8. Pray that our pastors will passionately treasure the Word and the Gospel, and that they would faithfully proclaim the whole counsel of God, and trust God the Holy Spirit to convict and convince the hearers.

Day 9. Pray that your pastors will counsel and teach with discernment through the wise use of Scripture and faith in God's power to work. Pray that they will be protected from the effects of sinful or negative attitudes that they encounter as they counsel. (Mal. 2:7; James 1:5-6; John 17:15).

Day 10. Ask God to protect your pastors' marriages and keep them strong as a model of Christ's relationship with the Church. Pray that your pastors will tenderly cherish and lead their wives, and that their wives will respect and encourage their husbands, submitting to their leadership. (Eph. 5:23-33) (If your pastor is not married, pray for his relationships with loved ones and those who are close to him.). Pray that they love and serve their wife and kids with gracious and glad hearts and that their family loves the church instead of hating it for stealing their daddy or husband away from them.

Day 11. Pray that God will protect your pastors' wives from bitterness when their husbands are criticized. Pray that each wife's prayer and devotional life will be consistent, intimate and transparent, and that she will guard her mind and heart. (Heb. 12:15; Prov. 4:23)

Day 12. Pray for your pastors' children, and especially that the pressures of the ministry will not discourage or embitter them. Pray that your pastors will provide godly leadership in the home, not based on fear of what others will think, but according to scriptural truth. (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:20-21) (If your pastor does not have children, pray that God will give him many "spiritual children" as he shares the Gospel.)

Day 13. Ask God to protect your pastors from the evil plots of Satan. Pray that they will not be corrupted as they rub shoulders with the world in the course of ministry. Pray that no root of bitterness will grow, that they will never be hardened by sin's deceitfulness, and that Satan will never get a foothold in their lives.

Day 14. Pray that God will build a hedge of protection around your pastors and their marriages, and that they and their wives will be aware of the potential for any improper relationships. Pray that their family time will be protected. (Ezek. 22:30a; 2 Cor. 10:4-5; Matt. 19:6)

Day 15. Praise God for your pastors' leadership and pray that they will make godly decisions. Pray that they each will lead with a shepherd's heart, and that they will always speak the truth in love. (1 Kings 3:9; 1 Pet. 5:2; Rom. 12:6-8; Jer. 3:15)

Day 16. Pray that God will bring godly friends and encouragers to your pastors and their families, to strengthen them for the ministry and provide meaningful fellowship and times of rest. (Phil. 2:19-25). Pray that God raises up people around them to assist them, mentor them, serve them, honor them, encourage them, pray for them, admonish them, and protect them.

Day 17. Pray that your pastors will seek to discern and the Holy Spirit will reveal to them who or what they are trusting in, other than Jesus, to gain acceptance or approval, to experience security and significance, to find meaning and purpose, to discover identity and direction. Give them ears to hear and eyes to see that these are nothing but worthless idols.

Day 18. Pray that your pastors will be humble and authentic in their faith, not given to pride, ambition or hypocrisy. Pray that they will have pure motives and give God glory for every gain or victory. (Micah 6:8; Gal. 6:14; John 7:17-18; 1 Cor. 10:13)

Day 19. Pray that your pastors will make wise lifestyle choices in order to protect their health, especially in the areas of exercise, eating moderately, and getting sufficient rest. Pray for times of relaxation and renewal to balance the stress of ministry. (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 9:27, 10:13, 6:19-20; James 3:1-2).

Day 20. Pray that your pastors will take time to have fun, do things they enjoy, waste time investing in a hobby that has nothing to do with ministry, date their wives and play with their kids, read good books and get away often to find peace in solitude.

Day 21. Pray that your pastors will focus on the Word of God and walk in the fear of the Lord, rather than fear of man, as they prepare messages. Pray that they will seek to please God rather than men, and pursue holiness rather than the praise of men. (Acts 6:4; Prov. 19:23; 2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 11:6; 2 Tim. 4:1-2). Pray they would always celebrate other ministers and their successes and never fall prey to envy, jealousy, insecurity, or comparison.

Day 22. Pray that your pastors will use discernment in use of e-mails, texting, the Internet, and the media. Ask God to guard their hearts concerning the use of free time. Pray that they will be morally pure and that they will wear the armor of God so that they will not fall into sexual temptation. (Rom. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:16; Eph. 6:10-18; 2 Cor. 10:4)

Day 23. Pray that your pastors will be courageous in the pulpit in proclaiming Christ, and confident in their use of the Word of God. Ask God to help them preach with insight, transparency and humility. Pray that their sermons would be accurate, true, powerful, convicting, bold, encouraging, creative, anointed, and Christ-centered. (Col. 1:28, 4:3a; Eph. 6:19)

Day 24. Pray for your pastors' wise and godly leadership of the staff and associate pastors, that they will work together for the common good, for the glory of God and the growth of the congregation in ways that matter to God.

Day 25. Pray that your pastors will be Great Commission men, committed to personal evangelism and the equipping of the saints to seek the lost. Pray that they will have hearts to develop thriving missions programs in their churches. (Rom. 10:15; Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 19:10)

Day 26. Pray for pure hearts, loving relationships, truthful and gracious communication among the elders, between pastors and elders and all the staff of the church. Pray that God will heal dysfunction, eradicate sin and establish His leadership over all of the elders, staff and pastors.

Day 27. Pray that your pastors will be men of prayer and worship, and that they will lead by example: teaching the congregation how to walk in a close relationship with the Father. (1 Thess. 5:17; Acts 1:14a; Matt. 4:10; Mark 1:35; Luke 22:46)

Day 28. Pray that your pastors will use wise time management, and that they will seek God's perspective for their schedules, guarding their time against unnecessary interruptions. (Eph. 5:15-16; Col. 4:5; Ps. 90:12; John 9:4)

Day 29. Pray for a fresh divine anointing on your pastors' ministries. Pray that God's working will be powerfully evident both in their personal lives and the spiritual life of the congregation. (1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Tim. 1:7; Rom. 15:18-19a).

Day 30. Pray that ministry, teaching, preaching, and leading will never become a chore for our pastors, but that it would always be a joy and a blessing to serve the Lord and His people with gladness, and that they would enjoy every aspect of leading, whether easy or hard, for the glory of God.

Day 31. Pray that your pastors will not give in to discouragement, but will deal with inevitable criticism and conflict by committing themselves into the hands of God, who judges righteously. (1 Pet. 2:23).

Month Two

Day 1. Pray that your pastors will practice servant leadership, edifying the congregation with wisdom and serving with God's agape love. (Gal. 5:13b; Eph. 6:7; Mark 10:43b-45, 9:23-24; John 13:5-9; Phil. 2:3-4)

Day 2. Pray for spiritual unity in the church staff and among the spiritual leadership of the church (elders, deacons, etc.), and that all would be fully united under the Truth and authority of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 12:25). Pray that the enemy will not be allowed to create divisions, strife, or misunderstanding among the church leaders.

Day 3. Pray that God will give your pastors a clear, biblical vision of what your church can be and should be for His glory; that they will communicate that vision clearly and confidently to the church. (Prov. 29:18; John 15:16, 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:5; Mal. 3:11); and that they will lead, preach, teach and pastor consistently with that vision.

Day 4. Pray that your pastors will seek God for personal revival, and revival in your church and community. (2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 69:32)

Day 5. Pray that your pastors will think biblically, with the mind of Christ. Pray that God will give them wisdom and discernment to preach and teach God's message rather than the wisdom or foolishness of men. (1 Cor. 2:16; Col. 2:6-8; Eph. 4:17)

Day 6. Pray that God would bring your pastors deeper into the Gospel, and that they would not add to it, or turn aside from it. Pray that they would receive Christ’s “It is finished” into new and deeper parts of their being every day, that the Holy Spirit will daily drive God’s good word of justification into their regions of unbelief—and so rely on and believe God's unconditional love for them, obtained through Jesus.

Day 7. Pray that your pastors will love and treasure God so much that they earnestly seek God's will and are committed to instant and complete obedience, ready for God to work powerfully in and through their ministries. (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Luke 9:23-24)

Day 8. Pray that your pastors will strive for personal excellence and will believe God for all He wants to do in the congregation. (2 Pet. 1:3; Col. 3:23-24)

Day 9. Pray that your pastors will be men of faith and passionate love for God, that they will recognize the idols in their lives, and not give in to worries, fears, or an uptight and anxious spirit. (1 John 4:18; Prov. 3:5-6)

Day 10. Ask God to provide for the financial needs of your pastors and their families. Pray that they will be wise stewards of both personal finances and church funds. (Phil. 4:19; Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:11; Ps. 37:25)

Day 11. Ask God to heal any hurts that your pastors may have suffered in the ministry. Pray that they will serve the Lord with gladness, and encourage the congregation to worship God with a joyful, surrendered spirit. (Is. 61:3)

Day 12. Pray that your pastors would tackle problems in the church with God's wisdom, vision, strength and courage, and that they would be passionate for God's glory and reputation rather than their own, or the church's, in the handling of church issues.

Day 13. Pray that your pastors would be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Day 14. Ask God to help your pastors seek to be strengthened with all power, according to God's glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, and that in so doing, they would give thanks to the Father, who has qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, not through any effort or performance of their own, but only through what Jesus has already accomplished for them.

Day 15. Ask God to cause our pastors to be filled with awe and wonder, and to see that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, that by Jesus Christ, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him, and that everything in their heart, soul, and mind would be aligned with that magnificent truth. Help them to know that, to really believe that.

Day 16. Pray that God would cause our pastors to see with eyes and ears that understand, that in Jesus Christ, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Jesus, all things, whether on earth or in heaven have been reconciled to God. Cause them to know that Jesus Christ has brought peace by the blood of his cross; pray that they would teach their congregations not only the past and future effects of that reconciliation, but also the NOW effects.

Day 17. Pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give our pastors a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which God has called them, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.

Day 18. Pray that according to the riches of God's glory he may grant your pastors to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith—that each one of them, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Day 19. Ask God to cause your pastors' sense of awe and wonder and worship to explode as they realize anew that they were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which they were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. Pray that their love for God will result in redognition and repudiation of any idols in their lives, anything that has become more important to them than Jesus' love and acceptance.

Day 20. Ask God to help our pastors see the danger in caving in to pressure to preach a moralistic or performance-based "gospel," and instead focus on who Christ is and what He has done. Help them to avoid the poison of self-absorption which undermines the power of the gospel in our lives. Help them to trust the love and grace of Christ.

Day 21. Pray that God will so transform our pastors and fill them with His mind that they will marvel at the truth that they have been raised with Christ, and that they will seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Pray that they will set their minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Cause them to know that in Jesus Christ, they have died, and their lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Day 22. Pray that God would cause your pastors to appreciate, rejoice and rest in what Jesus has done for them, and to engage in joyful worship, a sense of God’s reality in prayer, and to know deep down, all the way, that Jesus is more beautiful to their imaginations, more attractive to their hearts, than any idol. Pray that this mindset and perspective will be real, experiential, and thorough, thus replacing their counterfeit gods, so that they will uproot the idol and “plant” the love of Christ in its place, and that the idol will never grow back.

Day 23. Ask God to awaken our pastors' hearts to true worship of Himself: the submission of all of our nature to God, the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose--all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.

Day 24. Pray for the elder board, that every member would first consider himself to be accountable to God for the handling of church issues, and that they would so love Jesus Christ and His glory that His values and priorities would be their own, that is, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Pray that they would be passionate for God's glory, and helping the pastors to fulfill their God-given responsibilities.

Day 25. Pray that all of our pastors, teachers, elders, deacons and lay-leaders, would serve with glad hearts, grateful for their own forgiveness, for the reality of the daily power of the Gospel in their own lives, and that they would freely share those benefits with the congregation and their own families.

Day 26. Pray that our pastors would more fully know their identity in Christ, that they were dead in their trespasses and the uncircumcision of their flesh, and God made us all alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. Ask God to help them GET this, that Jesus set aside this indictment, nailing it to the cross, so that they believe with all their hearts that they stand justified on the basis of Christ's atoning death, not their own performance.

Day 27. Ask God to make our leaders, elders, pastors and teachers walk in a manner worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in His church, and us in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Day 28. Thank our Lord that He began a good work in our pastors, elders, and teachers, and will continue to perfect that good work until the day of Christ Jesus. Pray that their love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight so that they can discern what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

Day 29. Pray that if our pastors are ever feeling cast down in their souls for whatever reason, that they would fix their eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of their faith, that they would put their hope in Him, and remember the nature and character of the LORD God, that He is the One who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.

Day 30. Ask God to cause our pastors' love for and trust in the LORD God to grow stronger and deeper every day, and that they would dwell in the shelter of the Most High and therefore abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Pray that from their heart, they will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Day 31. Pray that the Holy Spirit and the Gospel would be the foundation, strength, and supporting power for our pastors, that they would each study to show themselves approved of God, workers who need not be ashamed; pray that their trust and understanding of God and His Word would enable them to discern error, cling to the Truth, and have a contagious passion for Jesus Christ.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Every moment is a gift from your hand,
Meant to be received with a glad heart.
Oh, help me to see it with Your eyes
Let me receive it with the certain knowledge
That it is because of Your love
That You give it, and then I will receive it
As the blessing it is - meant to be a messenger
Singing and imparting Your grace
And Your presence . . . to me.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Meditations Brother Lawrence and Practicing the Presence

Brother Lawrence for Normal People

First Meditation:

"That in the winter, seeing a tree stripped of its leaves, and considering that within a little time, the leaves would be renewed, and after that the flowers and fruit appear, he received a high view of the Providence and Power of GOD, which has never since been effaced from his soul. That this view had perfectly set him loose from the world, and kindled in him such a love for GOD, that he could not tell whether it had increased in above forty years that he had lived since."

A. An Experience that Changed His World View

(1) what he sees: a cold and bleak winter scene, deadness, no apparent hope. Might as well chop the tree down and have some fire wood. However, what he sees in the here and now is not all that there is. From experience, he knows that in just a short while, the leaves, the flowers and fruit will most certainly come out upon this tree.

(2) As sure as the sun rises and sets, the earth turns upon its axis, tilted at just the right angle so that as the earth revolves around the sun, the seasons change with perfect regularity. He knows that as winter turns to spring, the sun's rays will hit the tree for longer and longer periods every day. Photosynthesis, taking solar energy, water and nutrients drawn up from the earth through the tree's roots, will produce the compounds that the tree needs, and the tree "knows" that it is time to sprout leaves and blossoms and fruit. Every year it is the same. He may even notice the leaves turning to follow the sun as it courses through the spring sky. He may stop to look at the beauty of one of the blossoms, and marvel at the artist who designed it. He may wonder how in the world that blossom turns into a peach -- but he knows for certain that it will.

B. So what was his worldview before? Perhaps it was as simple (and prevalent) as not taking God into account, or assuming that what you see is all there is or all there ever will be. But what Brother Lawrence sees in the dead and barren tree is that there is Someone who is a designer, provider, planner, and executor of those beautifully designed and wonderful plans. He sees that it is God who is the author of this universe, the designer and creator of the planet and the plant and animal kingdoms. He established it all according to His plans and rules, the laws of thermodynamics and gravity, planetary alignment and rotation, plant and animal DNA, ad the reliability of organic and inorganic chemical reactions that have and will continue to support and sustain life on this planet.

C. Before this revelation, Lawrence did not have a high view of the Providence and Power of GOD. Now, he does, and it is permanent. God opened Brother Lawrence's eyes and heart to see this truth. He was given a powerful revelation of the real providence and power of God. This was something that Lawrence saw, a reality that overtook his former ignorance of God and replaced it with a view of the world that included God as the force to be reckoned with, who was foundational to Lawrence's view of reality. From then on, he lived, breathed, walked, talked and thought with this foundation. God must be considered and factored in to everything -- since He is the source of all that this tree needs for life, God must also be the source of all Lawrence needs for HIS life.

D. This revelation cut him loose from the world. How did it do that? Perhaps it was seeing that the creator of the world and all that is in it, might be a better "bet" than what is in the hands (i.e., at the mercy) of that creative power. He saw that the world and all that is in it is subject to and dependent upon the creative and providential power of God, and not the other way around. Perhaps it was seeing the love of God and having a love FOR God kindled, that cut him loose from the world... the expulsive power of a new affection, as Thomas Chalmers wrote.

E. This revelation not only cut him loose from the world, it also kindled in Brother Lawrence a love for God -- an appreciation of the majesty, glory, and character of God. This God who does all this must be good and loving, a provider for those whom He loves. He is much smarter than we could ever imagine. He is more powerful than any human being who ever lived, because He is the Creator of every human being who ever lived (and every tree). God is someone who can be trusted and depended upon; someone you know will care what happens to you. Someone who will not pull the rug out from under you.

F. Brother Lawrence stopped and took the time to ponder. He did not hurry to his destination, whatever that might have been. He thought and meditated with a readiness to see whatever God might put in his path to see or to do. He wasn't so intent on his own agenda that he whirled past what God wanted to show him.

G. It had been forty years, and in that time, his love for GOD was so big that he could not even tell if it had grown in that span of time. How did that happen? How can I have that kind of love for God? Perhaps it is as simple as "you have not because you ask not."

Nancy Green

September 24, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What Does It Mean If I Refuse to Be a Forgiving Person?

Say somebody sins against me. Happens every once in awhile. When I demand restitution, atonement, repentance and sorrow (DEMAND, not hope in Christ that He will "make it right" if that's His will for me or the situation), then my theology is wrong on more than one level.

First level: What does the Gospel say? All of _____'s sins have been atoned for, nailed to the Cross and Jesus has taken the death penalty for those sins. There can be no double jeopardy. There has been a break in relationship, perhaps a fracture of our trust in one another, but all the crime has been paid for. So what we work on, being confident of that theology, is our relationship and our trust.

Second level: What sins (yours or theirs) were bad enough that Jesus had to go all the way to dying on the Cross to cleanse and forgive them?

When I put my sin behind me
And forget what I have done
There's not a shred of mercy
Found within my heart
When I forget that it was my sin
That caused my Lord to die
And demand you toe the line
While I skate on by, loving
All those people who love me
All of them who think I'm fine
Choking on the Gospel
Gulping sacramental wine.

What do I REALLY think? How much sin did Jesus die for? How much of it is the other person's? Was it a lot? Was it a little?

Had it been just my sin that was involved, would Jesus have just kind of ignored it, or at least shaken His head and thought, "Ah, that's not so bad. She's trying."

Or would my sin been enough, foul and filthy, wretched and humiliating, so much so, in fact, that Jesus would have hefted the cross, taken the betrayal and beatings, the torture and mocking, and bled just for my sin, because - yeah, it really IS that bad?

When you're in the right, suffered a wrong at the hands of somebody, feeling pretty righteous because they've gone too far and caused you some damage, do you weigh their sins and see them as HUGE, compare them to yours and think, "wow, I'd never do anything quite that bad. But THAT person's sin - what they just did to me - well, that required the death of the Son of God. But my sins, Jesus would have understood my heart, known I'm trying to be a good person. He'd just wink and shrug His shoulders at mine; but their sins? They deserve the wrath of God!"

Any of those thoughts ringing true? Well, I must admit, they have a ring of truth for me, as a matter of fact. The evidence of my true mindset is there, shown by the way I've been behaving (long term behavior, style of relating, demanding restitution, withholding forgiveness until certain non-negotiable conditions have been met, etc.). I may be oblivious to it and live in denial, but it cannot be hidden from God or the people who really know me.

If those thoughts are ringing true (any of them) then our theology is wrong. Are we counting sins here? Are we measuring sinfulness by specific acts of conduct or failures to act? By any specific attitudes? What is sin, anyway? Is it my basic heart condition (idol-factory), or is it just all the little specific instances where I put myself first and said "to heck with you"?

Why was God so offended with my heart or my behavior, my thoughts or my words? Why is my sinful heart bad enough that it would require the precious infinitely valuable and beloved blood of the Son of God to be spilt to cleanse and forgive me? Am I that vile? filthy? untouchable or awful?

Well, as a matter of fact, yes. And when I can finally get that right, when that gets into my heart, then mercy will flow from me in measure with the amount of mercy that God through Jesus Christ, has lavished upon me. Oh, I believe, Lord. Help me in my unbelief!