Browsing "Devotional"
Mar 19, 2013 - Devotional    1 Comment

The Courtroom of Comparison

No one wins in the courtroom of comparison.

We women are terrible at this. We constantly compare, weight, size, fashion, prestige, money, kids, houses, on and on, ad nauseum. I suppose men are guilty of comparison too, I just don’t see it as easily.

But no one wins. I might win one battle against one woman — because I dropped some cash on the latest fashion trend– but I always lose the war. In every category there will be people better and worse than you.

So I’m happy to know that the verdict has already be settled, I can exit the courtroom of comparison. Consider this excerpt from The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller

The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness

Some days we feel we are winning the trial and other days we feel we are losing it. But Paul says that he has found the secret. The trial is over for him. He is out of the courtroom. It is gone. It is over. Because the ultimate verdict is in… He says that it is the Lord who judges him. It is only His opinion that counts. (p. 38-39)

So get out of the courtroom where you are constantly on trial with yourself and others. The trial is over. In Jesus, the prosecution rests.

Mar 11, 2013 - Devotional, My Story    No Comments

Time Change Woes

I don’t want to do anything.

I want to sit and relax and be selfish with my time. I don’t want to be an adult. I don’t want to pay bills or set alarms or go to meetings. I want to feel refreshed and ready for a new week. I want to re-create and not just amuse!

I feel tired. Partially because of the time change, partially because I rest so poorly. I overslept yesterday and missed church. I felt like I was owed a down day because I didn’t return home until after midnight on Saturday. I felt entitled to rest, but didn’t receive it. I spent the day struggling with wanting to do so much in a finite amount of time.

What do I want?

I was a relaxing, productive, lively, restful life — shared with someone perfect who always loves and never annoys. I want it to be without any disturbance or wrinkle in my perfect plan.

What do I want?

I want to trust in Jesus, to know Him well, to love His plan and His timing — to take, in stride, whatever comes my way!

But those two don’t seen to mesh well together.

What do I want?

Perhaps I should be asking, “Lord, what do you want for me?”

I sit, awaiting the answer.

Mar 8, 2013 - Devotional    1 Comment

That is how it should be.

This paragraph slayed me.

It spoke to my heart. It was exactly what I needed to hear. It’s an excerpt from a book called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, a collection of devotions for each day of the year written as through God were talking to you (hence the high number of capital letters!)

Jesus Calling

Read carefully, it might change your life:

I am leading you, step by step, through your life. Hold My hand in trusting dependence, letting Me guide you through this day. Your future looks uncertain and feels flimsy — even precarious. That is how it should be. Secret things belong to the Lord, and future things are secret things. When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at things that are Mine. This, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion: doubting My promises to care for you.

Whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, repent and return to Me. I will show you the next step forward, and the one after that, and the one after that. Relax and enjoy the journey in My Presence, trusting Me to open up the way before you as you go. (p. 59)

That is how it should be? That is how it should be!

That’s not how I live.

I wish I had faith for all situations — the mountaintops of overflowing gratitude and joy, the depths of loneliness, and perhaps most of all, the times of agonizing waiting. My life does feel flimsy and precarious at times. I’m learning slowly — no very slowly — that flimsiness and uncertainty is an opportunity. I want to choose trust instead of doubt. To truly believe that I have enough grace for today, whatever it may hold. To trust that I have enough light for the step I’m on. That I cannot plan or store up grace for tomorrows steps today.

That is how it should be.

Mar 3, 2013 - Devotional    No Comments

What is Love?

Some good friends of mine are celebrating their one week anniversary today. Weddings, vows, commitments. They’ve got me thinking. The goofy-in-love-we-can-do-no-wrong-our-love-is-pure feelings will fade. They have to. Though I am not married, I can imagine that there has to be a moment when you’re brushing your teeth and your spouse is (noisily) sitting on the can that challenges the twitterpated feelings of your wedding day. (Sorry Danny and Beth… and I hope you haven’t hit this stage quite yet!)

So, if a marriage is to outlast the goofy-in-love feelings, what is it about?

John Piper describes marriage as much more about keeping covenant than staying in love. One of my favorite writers, Leigh McLeroy, describes marriage as a whole lot of Tuesdays strung together. If we take these two statements together then marriage is a choosing to honor the vows spoken freely and joyfully on the perfect Saturday of your wedding day on every difficult or monotonous Tuesday thereafter. The feelings will fade, the faithfulness and covenant-keeping doesn’t have to.

Bill gets it. He illustrates his covenant-keeping with every loving bike ride.

What Is Love? from cvcnow on Vimeo.

Feb 22, 2013 - Devotional, Exegesis    1 Comment

Work vs. Toil

How do you feel about work?

Whether it be your job, vocation, career, chores, duties, or responsibilities, how do you feel about your work?

Do you love it? Is it rewarding? Would you, as my high school guidance counselor always hoped, work even without pay?

Or is it a drudgery? A necessary task to earn money? A prerequisite to leisure time?

I’ve been thinking a lot about work lately. I’m currently writing a Bible study on the Sabbath and I’m coming to understand more and more than without a proper understanding of work, one cannot have a thorough understanding of rest.

So, what’s work?

work in progress

First of all, work was not designed to be evil, a punishment, or a drudgery. To put it another way, there was work before sin entered the world. Read this nugget of truth from the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery:

“The first image of human work in the Bible stresses its perfection. Work existed in the time of human innocence in paradise, as the Protestant Reformers never tired of pointing out. The notion of work as part of God’s perfect design for human life is captured in the majestic simplicity of Genesis 2:15, ‘the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it’ (RSV). Here human work is shown to have worth and dignity as a service to God and as something that gives purpose to human life. Work is here a creation ordinance, a God-appointed necessity for human life…[W]ork does not originate with the Fall, as is often and erroneously claimed. The Fall neither cancels God’s command to work not does it introduce work into the world. What is new is work as a curse and as toil–something that must be accomplished against the hostility of the environment.” (Ryken, et al. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, InterVarsity Press Academic, Downers Grove, IL, 1998, p. 966).

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

 

There is a difference between work and toil. Work is good! It is an act of worship. It was designed to be good. But now we live in a marred world. We experience toil. Our work is not fulfilling. It is full of the thorns and thistles of inefficiency and disillusionment. The crops don’t harvest what we’d wish. Those people don’t return my phone calls. The house never stays cleaned. We live in a cycle of toil. But that is not the way it was meant to be.

Therefore, know the difference and seek to work, worshipfully and whole-heartedly, and not to toil, tirelessly and tediously!

Feb 18, 2013 - Devotional    4 Comments

Recreation vs. Amusement

Lately I’ve been studying Sabbath as I spend time at my unassuming Holy of Holies. I came across this gem of a quote and wanted to share it with my faithful readers:

Perhaps we can see the difference between God’s true rest and our “rest” by considering the difference between the words recreation and amusement. Embedded in the word roots for recreation and amusement are vastly different concepts. Recreation is the state of being re-created. It is something we do or choose that fills our soul and body so that we are stronger and richer as a result. Recreation nurtures us. Amusement, on the other hand, literally means “not to think.” When we choose amusement we shut down, we disengage. Even more pointed is the ancient meaning of amusement: “to deceive.” Could it be that we are deceived when we think that the answer to our weariness is amusement, not recreation? Life is not meant to alternate spasmodically between exhausting frenetic activity and mindless states where we have no energy for anything. We must learn to say no to relentless schedules and cultivate places in our lives for true recreation. Only we can make choices for what refurbishes our souls and our relationships.

You think about that.

Excerpt from: Choosing Rest by Sally Breedlove, Pg. 142.

Feb 16, 2013 - Devotional, My Story    2 Comments

My Unassuming Holy of Holies

Today my coffee table made me cry.

orlando grace church IMG 4771 300x225 My Unassuming Holy of Holies

No, I didn’t stub my toe on it while walking past. And no insensitive message was carved into its surface. I cried because of what this table means to my soul. I sat staring in awe at our old, worn, chipping coffee table. Its underside has crayon scribbles from the children of its previous owner. Its surface is riddled with imperfections and dented from repeated placement and removal of coffee mugs, computers, piles of books, and the occasional board game.

orlando grace church IMG 4772 300x225 My Unassuming Holy of Holies

But to me, this is the Holy of Holies. It is where I commune with Jesus.

I often sit at this unassuming table during quiet times. Today I am surrounded by the memories of piles of books and commentaries, of carefully underlined scripture passages. Today I hear iPod playlists and the clackity-clack of computer keys as I record what I’m learning.

I read. I write. I pray. I fall in love.

This is the place where I’ve fallen into the ocean of God’s sovereignty with Jonah. Where I’ve gleaned  truths about God’s providence with Ruth. Where I’ve learned to love the imperfect, and at times infuriating, church with Paul. And where the Lord meets quietly with me. It is my special, set apart, holy place. My temple. My altar. My Holy of Holies.

This is the place where I can write in my journal and express thankfulness and joy. It is where I can ask, “How long, O Lord?” and “Why have you forsaken me?” And it is where I wait for His answers. It is where I sit amazed that I can enter in to my very own Holy of Holies constantly, not just once a year. It is where I am reminded that Jesus constantly intercedes for me. It is where I am reminded of God’s constant pursuit of my heart.

This is my small, rough, chipped, wooden altar of blessing. It is the space where the sacred meets the ordinary.

My unassuming Holy of Holies.

orlando grace church IMG 4769 300x225 My Unassuming Holy of Holies

Feb 7, 2013 - Devotional    1 Comment

Hospitality: More than a Clean House and a Hearty Meal

Let’s play a game.

I’ll say a word and you tell me what pops into your head first. Ready?

Hospitality.

Here are things that come to my mind: cleaning the house, setting the table, breaking out the real place mats and napkins, hours of careful cooking, inviting people over, using the good china, providing a cozy environment, lighting candles, serving others in tangible ways.

orlando grace church IMG 4817 300x225 Hospitality: More than a Clean House and a Hearty Meal

I’m not the best cook and sometimes the floor needs vacuuming, but I like to think of my house as welcoming, open, and hospitable. But how does my life display hospitality? I am busy. I am scheduled. I do not have time for surprises or interruptions. I have a plan and feel terrible if I do not accomplish my list of things to do each day. A good day to me is a productive day. So what happens when a friend calls who needs to talk? Do I put aside my to-do list or ignore the phone call? What happens when a patient at work needs lots of extra time? Do I love them well or do I roll my eyes, constantly recalculating how to make up this time later on? How do I handle the unplanned?

While thinking about hospitality in this way – I’ve discovered just how inhospitable my life is.

What if I did something totally different and defined hospitality as leaving room for others in my life?

I want to be more open and less scheduled. More available and less programmed. I want to handle the unexpected, the urgent, the surprising, and the interruptions with grace. As Henri Nouwen said near the end of his life, “My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work.” Fellowship. Community. Talking about life’s blessings and troubles. That’s where true ministry and hospitality bloom.

I want to values others more and value my own time and expected schedule less. “The delight of embracing time rather than things is that we are free from the bondage of a schedule. Gifts can happen whenever they come, and we are not bound to certain times for certain experiences. Furthermore, if we freely give our time, we will harvest it in greater abundance.” (Marva Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, p. 122)

I want my life to be an offering of hospitality greater than the most gourmet meal or the most beautiful model home!

After all, Jesus exemplifies a life of hospitality despite constant interruptions. “Jesus… lived with the clearest and highest purpose. Yet he veered and strayed from one interruption to the next, with no apparent plan in hand other than his single, overarching one: get to Jerusalem and die. Otherwise, his days, as far as we can figure, were a series of zigzags and detours, apparent whims and second thoughts, interruptions and delays, off-the-cuff plans, spur-of-the-moment decisions, leisurely meals, serendipitous rounds of storytelling.” (Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, p. 78)

What about you? How do you handle interruptions? How is hospitality displayed in your life?

Proverbs 11:24 “The world of the generous gets larger and larger/ the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.” (Msg)

Jan 14, 2013 - Devotional, My Story    5 Comments

The Ache for Adventure

We have all felt it – an inexplicable, unquenchable ache.  We ache for many things in life.  Ache to feel loved, ache to have purpose, and ache to experience true adventure.  Modern man has actually concocted an entire industry to satisfy the ache by a cheap, or in some cases – not so cheap, thrill which heightens our adrenaline rush – and in some cases, our stomach contents.  We could ride every roller coaster ever built, jump out of airplanes at 10,000 feet, or bungee jump over the Grand Canyon, but still, deep in our souls, we know this is not true adventure.  We were created for more.


As I glance at the picture of the diving horse, my first thought is that this woman may be my patient in the next few days!  But my second and lasting thought is that the picture captures the kind of all-out, feverish gusto and appetite for adventure that I wished characterized my life. Both horse and rider have no thoughts of their own safety not because they are insane masochists, but because they place their trust outside themselves.  They trust in their training and in the construction of the diving platform, but most of all they trust in the warm, deep pool which will welcome and protect them as their journey draws to a close.  The pool below is their savior.  This gets me thinking about my trust, or often lack thereof, in my Savior.  I too long for my hair to be blown back by the velocity with which I run toward my destiny, my created purpose.  But all too often, like a modern day Jonah, I not only fail to run toward my future, I run away from it!

My favorite song of all time, Friendly Jas, describes what I wish my life looked like.  The lyrics are as follows:
Everything has changed/
But our hope remains the same/
I want you to know that I’ll be here/
Through a hundred years of rain/
Together we run into what we do not know/
Trusting our God who made tomorrow.

The last two lines can make me cry if I really think about them while I’m singing along in the car.  I want to run toward the unknown, not saunter, not creep cautiously.  I want to pick up speed, dive off the platform, feel the wind hit me stinging my skin with its speed, widen my eyes as I see the pool race toward me, tighten my grip with my fingers intertwined in my companion’s mane, and trust completely in my God who made me and my tomorrow.
Famed writer, C.S. Lewis has a quote which always impacts me especially when speaking about desire and adventure.
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

I long not to quench my ache for adventure – for there will always be longing and unmet desire in this world – but to heighten my ache!  The ache is not a sign of something wrong, but a sign of life!  O Lord, let me not be too easily pleased, but instead make me desire intensely, love deeply, and live on purpose trusting in you who made tomorrow.  Dive in – the water’s great.

Jan 4, 2013 - Devotional, My Story    No Comments

Candle Light Vigil

I was a part of this.

One year ago, at about this time, I marched silently out into the cold to stand for freedom.

One of those lights is mine!

As I learned attending the Passion Conference last year, modern day slavery is very real. People are being used and abused daily. I’ve heard the stories. I’ve seen the faces. I want people to know freedom – physically and spiritually.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
― William Wilberforce

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