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Yesterday I sat in a group of empathic counselors, shared briefly of my seemingly incohesive self, was reminded that nerve endings regrow and then…an image.  My brain works best when memories are formed around images these days.

“Nerve endings grow back”, she said.  “Well…so do lizard tails,” I thought.  In all seriousness, though, God created a creature that we know as a reptile that although damaged, will once again be whole.  Right now, I’m a lizard.  I’m awaiting my brain functioning to rise, the dopamine from stress to decrease, and for life to make sense once more.  Well, that latter part I know will never truly happen on this side of heaven, but the point remains.

In these last 30 hours, I keep reminding myself, “I’m a lizard. My tail will grow back.  My brain will function once more.”

And then, in a moment of needed pause, I found myself worshipping out under the sunlight and there beneath my skirt was this: lizard-carcus

I thought little of it besides the coincidence of a lizard appearing without full life–dead rather than without a tail, but a lizard nonetheless. My husband saw differently and replied:

“you definitely don’t look like that. i’m certain the enemy is messing with you after you find some sweet resolve in that idea. you’re mocked for it. i hate that. you will get your tail back! you are a new creation! the old has gone, the new has come! || 2 corinthians 5:17”

That’s just like him! That stupid enemy, deceiving and mocking me, just as he does best.

So although I’m missing my tail, I have life, and the life I have is in Christ.

If you’re feeling like part of you is deception or malfunctioning right now, I’m with you, but still, there’s hope.  Even more than hope for the future, there are promises of the present nearness and tenderness or a merciful and powerful God.  So, let us sing:

“Holy Ghost,

Won’t You come closer to me?

Holy Ghost,

Won’t You come closer to me?

Holy Ghost,

Kiss my eyes, I want to see.


I’m in need of Your help,

In need of Your hand.

In need of Your love,

Father.

 …

Holy Ghost,

Won’t You come closer to me?

Holy Ghost,

Kiss my heart, I want to see

I really want to see

The way that You see.

Come closer to me.”

– Melissa Helser, “Come close”

 

Holy Ghost, I want to see my whole self as You see me. As You see Yourself in me. Amen.

 

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My car is in the shop, ready to be picked up, but they close 30 minutes after I finish at work.  Small group in an hour, will I make it?

I asked God that timing would allow me to fellowship that evening, but He had another plan.

I jumped in my father’s truck and heard him say, “…when two are gathered…,” I insisted, “You opened the door.  Yes, when two are gathered, the Lord is present.” In this instance, the Scripture was not completely applicable, as we were not gathered together in God’s name (Matthew 18:20).  However, my father followed up with, “Isn’t your god always present?”

I stammered just a moment.  I made sure my father could not sense that I began feeling inadequate to answer.  This was only our forth dialogue about God. The first, I asked him what he did when he came to visit my Christian college and we bowed our heads in prayer. He bowed his head in respect.  The second, while my parents visited me in Italy, my younger brother got a tattoo of a cross entangled in a Star of David.  My parents were angered when they heard of the event, and I took it as an opportunity to speak of the entangled heritage and non-religious upbringing we came to know.  The third, I was visiting home for a holiday.  On our drive from the airport, we stopped at a Crepe cafe.  As my mother excused herself, I complimented my father, “Do you know of the Apostle Paul?”  He did not, so I explained about his selfless services to honor God.  I said, “I know you do not serve people, in serving God, but I thank you dad, for you are the Apostle Paul before my eyes in that you serve others selflessly.”  Still, no response that allowed for deeper consideration of accepting God into his life.

So this forth time, was big to me.  Just two weeks prior, I was anointed during women’s group with the purpose of being Jesus to my family.  I asked God, may something incredible take place in my family before I leave.  Make yourself known.

So… “Isn’t your god always present?” In my head, I’m screaming, but God you know this is the one thing I question you about all the time! I know you are present, but how do I explain the Trinity to someone who doesn’t know?  I love that you are the Spirit that encourages me and enlightens my path, Jesus- the friend who leads by example, and a loving Father who delights in His children.  But God, how can I convince my father of these things?

Out comes, “The Christian God is three in one.  The Holy Spirit is the being that is breathed into the body following baptism.  So once someone prays to God the Father that they want a life with Him, want to follow the life of Jesus and the laws of the Bible, they are cleansed in the water and redeemed, made new.  So yes, the Spirit is always with someone who believes in Jesus.  The Holy Spirit aligns us with God, so that we become more like Jesus Christ, the Son.  The Scripture I referenced in the joke, “When two or three gather in my name, there I am with them” is Jesus offering a promise of His presence among us.  So a conversation amidst two or three believers can come from the Truth of the Spirit within, while also in the presence of Jesus Christ.  And God the Father is listening intimately, for He cares deeply for His children…”

I honestly cannot remember the response or how the conversation ended.  But I know that I had always asked God to give opportunities to evangelize to my family, and have through service, but thought my conversations about God would be encouraging, compassionate, and enlightening.  Rather, they have left me feeling I need to know more, be better prepared before I engage with them again.

This thinking is not of God.  For God truly is all-knowing, and He has a plan of capturing each of my family member’s hearts, as well as the unbelievers in your families.  I praise God that I have faith in Him without full understanding.  That He allows me the knowledge and wisdom necessary to share truly of His will for all His people.  I pray to God that I lean not on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)!  I will, however, devote myself to the further study of the Trinity for myself, but also, in preparation for a possible future conversation on the topic with an individual considering Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Please continue to pray for our families, the loved ones who are not yet saved by Jesus.  Also pray for me, and for yourselves, that we remain close to God and enriched by His Truth, prepared at any moment to delight in sharing His love, His gift with others, anywhere.

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Previously, I mentioned a prophetic artist whom I met during my first hours in Charlotte.  Here is a photograph of the hand-painted card I selected as a gift for a dear friend.

IMG_3935-1 For that friend, the painting is suiting.  It is a wonderful display of her understanding the balance of worshiping God even when our bodies are frail.

However, I include it here as a parallel to a painting I witnessed Sunday evening.  As I stood beside a sister in the Lord on a beach-clean-up prayer-walk, we found ourselves still at once, captivated by the illustration before our eyes.  In bright colors it was depicted: a bonfire of orange and pink flames with a bold face, a man’s face outlined by a beard.  With his hands high in the sky praising God we began to praise.  Then the shapes shifted, now we saw his profile and his hands were no longer raised up, but rather to his sides.  A demonstration of a salvation stance.  Before our very own cross.  On the other side of the sun was a dragon.  The dragon had thunder clouds, or what seemed to be the darkest, gloomiest grey clouds in sight.  No matter how dark, these clouds could not touch the man praising God!

Satan wants to snatch us, he desires our attention and praises to be directed inward to the self.  The more we are consumed by our desires, we no longer focus on God’s mighty purpose for our lives. But this dragon was not able to open its’ jaw.  He was hindered by the grace of God present in those worshiping His very presence.

Is Satan trying to deceive you of something?

If so, I’d like to share these words with you.  Words that God brought to my heart in praying over another sister in Christ.  Before the dawn today, they solidified:

As you are waving around the shield of faith destroying every effort of Satan’s attack, blocking the fiery arrows, PENETRATE his mere existence for his presence is small and cannot grip you! Penetrate the devil for he no longer will be near! Speak the Truth against that cunning thief! He cannot and will not steal our beloved sisters and brothers!  God is protecting us and HAS equipped us for this battle! Our days are numbered and this very one is purposed in His Book of life, a day of penetrating the supposed kingdom the enemy has attempted to claim his own.  No longer! No longer! Penetrate!  He has not prevailed! Our God is Mighty! And He has claimed refuge in your heart as He invites you to seek refuge in Him.  So in that place of security, penetrate and make Satan no more! (Ephesians 6, Psalm 39).

“The LORD shall preserve you from evil; He shall preserve your soul.”  – Psalm 121:7

The day then ended with this reflection:

The world sees a home destroyed, but God sees a broken and contrite heart.  He feels His children desperately clinging to Him for protection, for guidance.  Lean on Him and you will not stumble.  His foundation can not be quaked.  God is a Solid Rock, a resting place for our souls.  A warm embrace.  A disciplining Father to keep us right with Him.  Be encouraged. For God is near and He has no intention of letting you go.

So dance, dear brothers and sisters.  May we continue to praise God despite the darkness.  For only God is given authority over our everything.  Satan deceives, but God leads us by Truth with compassion, grace, mercy, and love.   He is a promise-keeping God! He is and will always be victorious!

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February 22, 2014

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller has served as my favorite book for several years, as it depicts the gracious love of a father, as is God’s for His children.  John Piper also reflects the parable in detail in a sermon entitled “A Tender Word to the Pharisees.”

“The deepest void in the older brother’s heart is that he lived in the house with the father, and he found it quite unsatisfying… He did not love his father, he didn’t love being with him.  The father says, ‘You are always with me…All that is mine, is yours” (Luke 15:11-32).

Despite the son’s independent sense of righteousness, such a gracious gift is offered.

“There is an inheritance for a son, not a slave….Don’t boast on the porch of merit as obedient servant. Come into the family and receive forgiveness from your brother and me.  Yes, you do need it.  Come and celebrate grace.  There you get the inheritance…  Just like the older brother came in from the far country of misery, you come in from the porch of merit… You can stay and get paid the wages of your sin, or you can come in.”

Much like the older brother,”the Pharisees were lovers of money,” meaning deep down beneath their religiosity they idolized money over their faith in the words they studied, taught, and governed (Luke 16:14).

John Piper continues to warn us, “It’s the Father’s word for everyone who is bitter and hard toward sinners.  One of the greatest tests of whether you love mercy is whether you feel mercy toward sinners.  You tell you are a pharisee by whether your heart is moving to woo and rescue sinners, gross sinners OR whether you are disgusted at their behavior.”

It is said that Jesus was most stern with the Pharisees, loving towards the widows and children, welcoming to all who had ears to hear, and emotionally wrecked for those who have yet to hear or reject His Truth.

Today, I am emotionally wrecked, rattled, and inspired by Jesus’ heart to unify ALL of mankind with His glorious love.

Through reflection of Jesus’ life, I find myself clinging to the contrast of David overtaking Jerusalem by force and Jesus walking in peace.  Where the people of God brutally fought for their inheritance,  Jesus provided a way.

Prior to his arrival to Jerusalem, Jesus weeps over the city compromised by political and religious reign over His people.  He says, “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies…will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation” (Luke 19: 41,43).

Did you get that?  Jesus weeps, He weeps for His people.  God’s intentions were to create man in His own likeness.  Although we are born intimately connected to our Creator, the sin of man causes a strain that is only yielded by Jesus’ sacrifice.  Now, Jesus weeps.  He later cries out to God in Heaven, but recognizes His life must be given for the future of His people.  He weeps for the lives of His people.   King of kings, LORD of lords, Ruler of Heaven and earth weeps for us.  He is emotionally connected; He has emotionally invested in His children.  And He weeps.

Before this event, Jesus had spent a supposed three years with His disciples.   Two I wish to note.  The first, Matthew, a tax collector.  A tax collector at this time, was a Jewish man shamed by submitting to Roman rule.  However, after rejecting his own people in pursuit of promised safety and possible riches, it is Matthew who ” invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners” (Matthew 9:10).   The second, chosen for an unknown reason is Judas Iscariot.  The only things written of this disciple are that he was selected to be one of the twelve,  he was bribed by the priests, he looked for the opportunity to betray his Teacher, and he took his own life (Matthew 26 and 27).

Both men were trapped by the temptation of Rome’s material treasures.  However, Matthew found Life in Jesus’ teachings, and Judas found a way to gain more earthly riches.  Matthew was killed delivering Jesus’ Truth to the nations, while Judas killed himself before spreading Jesus’ teachings.

How marvelous would it have been to study under the great Teacher?

Judas missed a great opportunity to serve, be a friend of, and live forever with Jesus.

I, of course find myself awed by God’s craftsmanship:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.  And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said,

“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
Today I appoint you to stand up
    against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down,
    destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up
    and plant.”

The beautiful vision God communicated to Jeremiah affirms to each of us, that God has our lives mapped out, but it is our love for Him, faith in Him, and obedience that permits God’s wondrous acts to move through us (Jeremiah 1:5-10).  The Jewish law includes God’s guidance through prophets, but the Great Commission is brought to the disciples by the resurrected Christ, Himself:

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:16-17).

John is inspired by Jesus to write letters to seven churches (Revelations 1-3).  In recognizing the similarities of our modern cities to that of the church of Ephesus, pastor of Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll, convicts servants of man, saying, “If we are doing it for the praise of men and not for the glory of God…then rather than excusing our lethargy, we should repent of our idolatry.”

In a sermon delivered on Jesus’ letter to Smyrna, at the church of Smyrna, Driscoll inspires the church congregation to continue preaching Jesus’ Truth by reminding the people that “He is always present to comfort you, because He has walked the road you are on.  And since He has walked that road for you, inviting Him to walk that road with you, is a great honor.  So do not fear.  They may take your money.  They may take your reputation.  They may take your life. But they cannot take your Jesus.  And if Jesus is who you treasure the most, then the fact that He is always with you and cannot be taken from you is enough.”

My prayer is that it is God that we value most, above all else.  May we be so overcome by God’s grace towards us that we share His loving grace with every man and woman we meet.

Tony Miano says “If we claim to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and we are not actively engaged in sharing the gospel with those with whom we come in contact, we are sinning against Him and are without excuse.”

With a Turkish translator present, Driscoll added, “For the Christian, this [world] is as close to hell as you will get.  For the non-Christian, this is as close to Heaven as they will get.  Because Jesus died for us, and rose for us.  If we die for Him, we will rise with Him.”

I appreciate that this suffering I feel now makes me rely upon the Lord’s strength, and that I will never know another suffering.  But for the people I know and have not yet met who remain separated from God, I cannot allow myself to miss the opportunity to invite them to meet with God.  No creation of God’s shall be damnable, and yet, history has caused this separation, but God’s plan uses us–me and you–to conquer the earth in Jesus’ name!

“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”  – Penn Jillette, an atheist comedian, magician, and filmmaker

YOUCH! If we claim God is LOVE, that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son,” so much more shall we offer to give fully in committing to Jesus’ call to make disciples of all the nations.   God detests the evil temptations that lure man, but He greets His children with love, not hate.

So shall we dine with the sinners and tax collectors, place our hands on lepers, offer food to the hungry, AND baptize in the Spirit, bringing salvation to mankind.

May we have the courage.  Peter denied Jesus three times, and yet, Jesus promised “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18).  May we rely on Jesus with faith alone.

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January 6, 2014

I just now realized this, after I was affirmed to write today, that today is my Jesus Birthday! With one of those smiles you just can’t tear down and tears of joy bursting out of my eyes, I thank God that we have explored the world, the home, the education, the ministry, the death, and the life together for SIX YEARS!  I celebrate my Jesus Birthday, extra special, it is the only day of the year that I recognize as a day to celebrate the life that I personally am living.  It is a day that I fly on the wings of an Eagle, protected under the wings on most days, but today we soar.  My Jesus Birthday is the anniversary of the day I was baptized, the day I was renewed by a cleansing, by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as Truth to restore me into a new person.

I think of the kids I teach every day and on Sundays, the six year-olds who have been taught to pray, and begin to individualize their pleas to God.  The joy that exudes out of their non-manufactured dances and their worship screams.  No kid is in tune.  No kid is dancing a prim and proper dance.  But God, He is delighted by the celebrations and communications of His little children.

I am one of them today!

Although my six comes after 16 years of emotional, social, physical, and mental growth, so my abilities at a Spiritual 6 are greater than that of a physical 6, I have the joy of a child after God’s heart.

_________________________________________

Bill Hybel’s Holy Discontent is a book I read through in not even a day in a half.  I was at a four day silent retreat, Sacred Heart, in Colorado.  God shook me BIG.  See, for 51 months I have lived now knowing the mission that God has for my life.  I have lived nearly every day dedicated to attaining the skill and intellect to achieve His mission with the best of my abilities.  I have sacrificed my immediate desires to satisfy this need.  I have lived knowing, “vocation is the place where your happiness meets the world’s greatest need” (Frederick Buechner).

However, for me, it is greater than happiness.  It is recognizing what delights me most and then working to bring that to others.  Therefore, my vocation, as God has shared, is facing the ugliness of the world and bringing those in hardship to a place of peaceful companionship.

Reading through my prayer box and lifting the individual requests up to God this morning, I found one dated November 4, 2012.  It reads as follows:

I give you my Holy Discontent.                                                                                            My Holy Discontent: Broken marriages  → bad parenting

God, may my heart grow.  May I be connected with the people, may this discomfort be fed, may our work be viewed as an act of grace–a time for broken hearts to be united in Your Family.

On the front of the card I have written, “Affirmed on September 1, 2013 by C.M.” a mom of one of the kids I teach in Sunday school.

In the kid’s classroom yesterday afternoon, I found God encouraging me to pray for the perverted minds of the world.  I did not recognize the pain He felt until I recognized the environment: as the kids sung  songs of praise around me and I stood still with tears dripping from my eyes.  This morning I added an index card to my “God Box,” praying:

I GIVE YOU… this world’s perverted minds

May we be a stronger army of rebels fighting against sexual perversion.  May young girls not become victim to twisted men any longer.  I appreciate, O God, that Your Light shines in darkness, but may this evil be demolished! Completely won over by the Goodness that is You!

Prostitutes, whether in human trafficking abroad or on the American streets, are a clientele God has pulled my heart to yearn for.  One day, in my retreat center, I pray many girls rid the lie from their lives that their worth is only the value men view there bodies for.  I pray over girls dying on the street right now, that they may be told by ANYONE, perhaps YOU, that their is a god, the God, who loves them, adores them, and enriches their lives.  That He cares for their heart, not their physical attractiveness. That He has great plans for their lives, and that the girls will never be bonded again.  For Jesus allows freedom of the greatest magnitude!

As I finished reading Jennie Allen’s Anthing: the prayer that unlocked my God and my Soul last night, I fell in love again with the call God has placed on my heart.  It is simply undeniable how great and glorious our God is.  He has a plan for our lives grander than we can imagine, grander than we can achieve on our own two feet.  He desires for us to reciprocate His characteristics.

As a reader it is clear that as Allen is writing to the public, she is intimately communicating with God.  She writes, “While my prosperity is a gift, I am the dispenser of my gift…use me to recklessly save, recklessly heal, recklessly love” (pp. 175-176).  She incorporates Father Kaj Munk’s words:

What, therefore, is our task today? Should I answer “Faith, hope and love?” That sounds beautiful.  But I would say–courage.  No, even that is not challenging enough to be the whole truth.  Our task today is recklessness.  For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature…we lack a holy rage–the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity.  The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets, and when the lie rages across the face of the earth..a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world.  To rage against the ravaging of God’s earth and the destruction of God’s people. To rage when little children must die of hunger, while the tables of the rich are sagging with food.  To rage at the senseless killing of so many.  to rage against complacency.  To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the kingdom of God.

What is it that God desires you to rage for?  What is it He has you recklessly seeking? What makes you so uncomfortable that you have yearned for God’s hand in?

In that place, is the ministry.  In that place, is your holy discontent.   In that place, “your happiness meets the world’s greatest need” (Frederick Buechner).

________________________

A great song to start your quiet time with God, asking “What makes me hurt?  What do you desire of me in this?” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B1Lv8k5pEc

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January 5, 2014

With the New Year here, I find myself asking my friends, “How did God marvelously finish your year?” “Has God approached you with a vision or mission for this year?” However, the responses have been utterly disappointing.  To me, that is.

I have friends telling me of a single event that made the lasting impression.  I do not have friends delighting in the characteristic of God they just became familiar with.  I do not have friends in awe of the wondrous plan He has in store for them.

Now, I hope this is not accurate, but it is how I have been led to think.

Do Christians accept that God’s Word is True, but allow it to simply rest on a book shelf as any other non-fiction or biographical piece of literature does?

My Coast Kids Kindergarden-1st graders are quizzed each Sunday, “Is everything in the Bible true, or is it fake?” They always answer with their mightiest voices, “TRUE!”

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:2-4).

However, it is my concern tonight that we live believing that God did perform miracles, and forget that He is today.  As Christians we are blessed that Jesus became our answer to Old Testament laws; however, that does not differ how our God pleases closeness and obedience to Him, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

God desires our attention.  He wants to take our burdens upon Himself so that we are able to do greater works.

Jennie Allen puts it this way (Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked my Heart and My Soul, 2011, pp. 176):

We give our lives to him and he gives our lives away.  Nothing on earth is more fun and more full than being distributed by an all-knowing, compassionate God who knows exactly where our ridiculously blessed lives would be best spent.

How is it that Christians call themselves God-fearing followers, emptied at the altar, renewed by the redemptive power of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; and yet, “Christians” live day-to-day without acknowledging the presence of God in their lives.  I sincerely hope that all of the friends I spoke with would agree that God is within them by the Holy Spirit, but I tremble to think they might not radically believe that God, Maker of the universe is within them.

What is most attractive, more than anything in the world, to me is this: someone who spends more time in communication with God than anyone else.  God seeks our obedience.  God desires our love.  But more than anything, on my heart right now is this, He is willing to dream greater things for our lives than we could ever ask of Him.  His vision is stupendous–for He literally sees absolutely EVERYTHING!

May we be people living life abundantly, full of joy, giving, and celebration.  May we understand that Jesus was, is, and will continue to be God in the flesh, “a person you talk to and listen to and love and respect… the person who defines my life, sweeps in and changes me… Jesus existed to please his father” (Allen, pp. 169).

How do we expect to please God if we are not willing to spend time listening to God?

Great men and women of God have transformed the mundane, turning neighborhoods into mission fields, parenting into launching the next generation of God’s voices, legal work into loving those most hurting, waiting tables into serving and loving in such a way that people see our God.  Jesus says the way we glorify God, the way we step into his story, is by accomplishing the work God gives us to do…it was what we were made for (Allen, pp. 165).

Challenge yourself this day, this week, this year, this short life we have here doing God’s mission in a dark place.  Challenge yourself to live not for yourself, but fully surrendered for God’s purpose!

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March 5, 2013

Having recognized the severity of my blog postings to the public being well practically at a negative influential holding, I will express pure, honest reflection of today’s occurrences.

I had the privilege of running out of the office today to answer a phone call I receive about once every five months.

In the last few months I have come to recognize that out of everyone I know in the world, I have come to love and respect my father more than any other.  This realization came after concluding Tim Keller’s Self-Forgetfulness, a bold account of Paul’s acts for humanity.  Upon my next visit to California, my parents gifted me with a Crepe lunch (a reminder of my European lifestyle).  At the restaurant I had a few moments alone with my father and politely asked, “Dad, do you know who the Apostle Paul is?”  He, who admitted his belief of the scientific theory of evolution above a divine interference for the first time during my time in Florence merely a 18 months ago, insisted he had not known of such a man.

I continued on to share the heart of service the Apostle Paul attributed to my father, claiming a relation between the two men’s lifestyles.  Although my dad had not known the Love of Forgiveness of God, his passion in life is to bring joy to others through allowing them to experience life in ways beyond their immediate means.  He does this through travel and credit analysis and advice giving.

I complimented my father that day, and yet, it hadn’t soaked in entirely until this past Thursday. At a Women’s Ministry event at my Denver church, a growth group leader asked, “Who is that is hardest to love in your life?”

My initial thought led me to the remembrance of my grandfather’s death in 2010 which led to my telling my mother “I love you” for the first time in a nine-year span.  I acknowledged that my mother’s lifestyle is nothing that I desire for myself and therefore had a difficult time respecting the lack of community involvement in her life–leading to a lack of respect for my mother, completely.  Although I said the words at that time, they were said in an attempt to comfort a broken heart.  Since facing the reality that I am more like my parents than I imagined–purely in regards to academic success–I have come to ask for their advice, comfort, shelter and encouragement.

I know that my father would sacrifice ANYTHING for his little girl.  A genuine cliché, but a dear reality check for my soul.

So.. if it is not those who do not know the love of God, who is the hardest to love? For me, it is the people I once considered mentors, accountability partners, siblings in the Body of Christ who have consistently abused my love of service and left me dry.

Today, today is a good day.  The day of a blessed phone call.  I know what I respect most and it is transparency.

When God first took over my life five years ago, I quickly came to know the game of brokenness.  It is very true that in a broken state, God can pick us up, carry His children, and lift our eyes towards His restoration.  But everyone is broken.  The difference is, not everyone is willing to open their lives as a testament of God’s masterful design.

The man on the other end of the phone call… well, God and I have spoken intimately about this man. He has been altered.  And in the midst of despair, he claims ” I know, but I do not believe.”  God does not fear our wretched words, our frightful desires, or the cry of a man giving up.  Instead, in that moment, God does not claim the title of rescuer, but Father, Friend, Encourager, and Confidant.

Bob Dylan claimed “knock, knock, knockin’ on Heaven’s door,” but after finishing a Spirit-lifting conversation, God met me in a moment of vulnerability, to say, ” It is an open invitation I have sent you.  You can never become an annoyance, a burden. I chose you.”

The ability to be open, honest, silent, loud, crude, rude, aware..real with God.  To know that He is there, ” a rock I may not always stand on, but know is always there,” said the man on the other end.

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