Monthly Archives: February 2013

Desert Cure

He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there.  He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle.    Psalm 107:33-36

I wish I could say that I’ve stepped foot onto an actual desert.  But then again, thinking about standing atop a living dune of sand with nothing but mirages glistening in every direction is not my idea of a pleasant experience.  Life seems to beg for mercy in the desert, crying out to but a dew drop to quench the thirst — to give life.  And yet, it’s beautiful.  Adorned with brilliance and elegance, sculpted upon an ever shifting canvas of sand, the desert is a place of renewal, dependence and discovery.

The desert is a place that whispers no words, but instead churns more questions than answers.  It’s a place that gives no breaks and no hint of relief.  A desert can be personal, God makes certain of that!   It’s hand-made, different for each one of us — and trust me, everyone will encounter a desert at some point.

The desert experience is found throughout the Bible in many of the familiar stories.  Joseph’s desert was him being betrayed and spending years as a slave.  The Israelites wandered throughout the desert for forty years.  David ran from Saul in the desert.  Paul spent his converted life wrestling with sin in his desert.  Lazarus became an example to all of new life that comes from the desert.  And Jesus stepped into the desert for forty days to reenact our own desert journeys by fasting and facing the temptations of Satan.  All of these experiences face the reality of their own desert while holding tight to the hope of God’s Word and promises.

It becomes a place where all that once sustained you is no longer there to satisfy the cravings of the flesh.  It’s a place of spiritual purging that cleanses the soul and dries out the tongue that no longer thirsts for junk.  Instead, it defines the true thirst of our hearts.  The desert becomes the best place for God to wilt away the false selves and bring life to an authentic self.

Lord Jesus, in my desert are many mirages.  My eyes fail me, my senses deceive me to think that what my mind thinks is there is true.  But I know you are the only Truth to trust and it is not found by my senses.  It is found in the faith of knowing who you are in me and I in you!  While I’m in my desert may I encounter the gift of your presence each day.  And in your presence, as I am so thirsty, may I drink from the abundance of your well of living water!  It is in knowing you are with me in the desert I experience your protective love that gives me the strength to continue in this journey.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.   Psalm 63:1

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Hope, Love, Surrender, Trust, Truth

Unlikely Love (pt. 2)

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.  Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.  The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.      Isaiah 35:1-2

While Satan may be considered the most unlikely to show love, Jesus was, perhaps the most unnoticed, therefore unlikely, to be Love.

Imagine, the God of the universe arriving on the scene as Son of Man.  This is perhaps the most unexpected, undeniable and unnoticed expression of love ever known.  The God, who was, and is, and is to come came as all of us come to this world — through birth.  Thankfully, we don’t remember much of this experience personally, but as adults we become increasingly more aware of what it entails.  While it brings joyfulness, it involves much pain and discomfort.  Wouldn’t it had been easier if God had come as a man?  Stepping from among the forest in the heat of the midday sun to feed the hungry and quench the thirst of the parched?  Where’s the love in that?

Instead, Christ came as a baby in the most lowly of places — a manger.  Here’s God, the Son of God becoming the Son of Man.  Here’s God, the Creator of all things — sun, moon and stars in part — confined to the needs of a baby, in all humanity.

Christ the Son needed God the Father, and through His bones, through His emotions, through His feelings, through His hunger and thirst, through His grieving, through His sadness, through His sorrow, through His joy, all the glory and love of God lived.

Then, in the biggest exchange of life of all time, as though His birth and life were not enough, His love is demonstrated in His death and resurrection.  A true moment of selflessness and compassion for all mankind, so all could have fellowship with Him and be with Him in paradise.

Heaven on earth, a rather unlikely place to find it.  But Christ by way of His birth, His life, His death and resurrection allows me to live heaven on earth.  Not because of anything I have done, but rather because of everything He has done.  In me IS Christ and through Him I live so that His glory can be.

Unnoticed, unexpected . . . very unlikely, pure LOVE!

Thank you Lord Jesus for making it possible to abide in you all day and every day of my life.  I’m sad to think of how much I have placed you in a box and on a shelf in my life, may it no longer be.  Regardless of the pains in life I experience of which you are all too familiar, may I always know and believe that in your abiding love there is joy unspeakable and full glory!

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love:  not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.   I John 4:7-10

Leave a comment

Filed under Belief, Love

Unlikely Love (pt. 1)

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  I Corinthians 11:14

The masquerade ball . . . a dance of mystery mixed with curiosity and intrigue.  The chance to be and to meet someone through dazzling masks and suave expressions of love.  It so easily entices the senses and persuades the mind to the pursuit.  Yet, beneath the distraction lies a heart that appears to be love.

Paul, too, was concerned about this dance of deception.  His cry to the Corinthians in his letter was because of the false teachings of Jesus by others.  He reminded them of his intent to introduce them, as a bride of purity to Christ.  But, through listening to the voices of others preaching falsely about Christ, Paul calls a spade a spade by outing the deception of Satan through their being “led astray from [their] sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

How easily we become entangled in the web of deception.  When Satan’s minions, his servants, masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness we fall for the most unlikely love.  The masquerade that so deceives our mind, deceives our hearts.  It’s not love at all!

Since the dawn of time, Satan has had a vengeance against the One who banished him from the heavens.  His mission is to destroy Christ and all He represents.  His battle is not against man, I am but no trouble to him.  Unless, however, Christ, who is my life, reigns in and through me!  That changes things!

This battle that rages though, is not to be fought by me — I’ll never win — but Christ, who lives in me fights on my behalf!  It’s allowing Christ to be Christ in me, through me — Christ my life!

And, yet, Christ who IS love, is quite the unlikely love when he arrived on scene as a baby to the dance of life . . . unnoticed.

Lord Jesus, I know that Satan is the great deceiver!  I know too, that you have every battle I face.  When I stray, and I will, remind me of your light, the True light.  Reveal in my mind and my heart the most unlikely love Satan portrays for me through his lies and remind me of the Love you ARE!

Leave a comment

Filed under Belief, Faith, In Christ, Truth

Do Through Who?

. . . Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!  Romans 7:24b-25

I had a bitter-sweet relationship with swimming as a child.  While on one hand I loved getting into the pool, floating on tubes and challenging myself a little closer to the deep end, on the other hand I was deathly fearful of water.  There could be any number of reasons why I disliked it so much, but one thing was true — the thought of drowning petrified me.

This fear was perhaps generated by the story of me nearly drowning when I was three.  I think I remember, but then again I’ve heard the story so many times my imagination could very well have drawn the picture for me.  Story goes that one day while playing at the beach, my oldest brother was playing with his friends a good distance from shore.  No one I’d rather play with than my brothers at age three.  My mom set up camp a few yards from the water and got me situated at waters’ edge with my toys.  Mom turned her head for just a second — the very second I decided to go play with my brother.  The water didn’t have to be too deep to be too deep for me.  With that said, mom looked up to find me bobbing like a cork, feet in mid-air.  As any mom would do, she ran with all of her might to snatch me from the water.  She rescued me!  I naturally held my breath while bobbing, but had mom not been nearby it would have been over.

From that point forward, either a curse or a life saver, I had to wear those arm floaties.  I hated those things!

Life seems to dish out some unexpectedly deep waters to step into at times.  My life has had it’s fair share, with current rip currents and breakers that are strong enough to lose your footing.  As I reflect, I’m reminded of the many things I’ve used to rescue me.  When I’ve appeared to be drowning I’ve stepped up onto people, places and things that were temporarily strong enough to get my nose out of the water.  But even so, they crumbled under the sand and left me searching again.  The more I do, the more I try to rescue me, the more my feet dance in the sky.

Like Paul, I’ve found myself so often asking, “What will rescue me from this I do not want to do?”  But then, I realize, Paul never said “what will rescue me?”  Paul said “Who.”

God rescues!   Strong enough to rescue me from that Hawaiian sized wave of life that crashes down with such a force I wonder if I’ll ever surface again.  So, bobbing with my feet in the air . . . I wait . . . I hold my breath . . . I trust . . . I live . . . I do . . . through . . . who?  Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ my Lord!

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever! Amen.   Romans 11:36

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Belief, Christian Living, Faith, In Christ, Surrender, Trust

The Abnormal Norm

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12

This morning I experienced a strong feeling of sadness.  While driving and thinking on the circumstance I couldn’t help but think also of the immense sadness God the Father must experience as He observes the abnormality of the world.

This place, once created and reserved for pure love, absolute peace, utter joy and full fellowship with the Father has, like silver exposed to the air, tarnished with sin.  Life has been set into motion and decay has become the norm.  Right?  After all, death is imminent.  For me, it’s all I’ve known and because I’ve refused to see the forest for the trees, I’ve accepted abnormal for today’s norm.  The entire gauge of what should be was reset and my heart, over time, drifted so far from the Father I replaced in my mind abnormal for normal.

But God’s intent was never for us to live as dysfunctional children within a dysfunctional world.  His plan all along was pure fellowship with Him in the healthiest of gardens where God walked among the ferns.  And that blasted snake ruined everything!  But just when he thought he got the upper-hand and continued to destroy all that God created, God did something so abnormal no one even noticed!  He came to earth!

God Himself in full perfection-sinless, became abnormal — abnormally abnormal.  And on that tender, sad, yet victorious day, Jesus said it was finished.  Jesus became The abnormal norm.  The consequences of sin continue to play out in the lives of those who choose to follow anything contrary to Christ, but Jesus paid the price and created a new place to dwell, in full fellowship by becoming my life!  And while the world measures abnormal against its standards, God measures my normal by Who lives in and through me!

Lord Jesus, today I’m sad for many reasons, but in the midst of this I am filled with joy that comes from knowing that the lies of the world are not what you use to measure what is normal!  May my life reflect a normal that the world sees as abnormal because the world does not know you like I know you!  Let those who do not understand why I serve you the way I serve you see in me a full measure of you.  I know that Anything + Me = a Mess!  And I know that Everything – You = Nothing . . . which means,  You + Nothing = EVERYTHING!

God saw all that he had made and it was very good.  Genesis 1:31

Leave a comment

Filed under Belief, Christian Living, Faith, In Christ, Truth

Passive Attentive

Dear Lord Jesus, I can think of many things in my life, both past and present, that by definition fall into the category:  destructive.  Whether it be patterns of negative behavior or attitudes from the flesh, I know I have what it takes to single-handedly make a mess of everything.  This is no surprise to you.  I’m so thankful you are a God of restoration!

However, the sealing off of negative thoughts and inconclusive moments in my world have been conduits of passive aggressive behavior in my relationships.  You have spoken to me this morning as clear as the sun is shining and answered my prayer.

Awareness of your presence and the familiar tone of your voice are but refreshments to my weary mind and aching heart.  I am guilty of being passive attentive to your Spirit within me and when I neglect to listen, my doer listens to other things.  I hurt, others hurt, I no longer trust, others cannot trust — it’s not your plan.

I know I need to listen to you in all things, becoming actively attentive to your Spirit within.  Remind me of the power I have in you!  In your precious and Holy name, Jesus Christ, Amen!

We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  I John 4:19-20

1 Comment

Filed under Love, Prayer, Pride, Rights, Surrender, Trust

Bull Crap

–conflicts on the outside, fears within.  But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us . . .   II Corinthians 7:5b-6a

In John Eldredge’s book, The Beautiful Outlaw he writes about the cunning nature of Jesus during his ministry on earth.  It is definitely a characteristic I’ve rarely associated with Christ and one, quite honestly, difficult to apply.  My Savior — sly and sneaky?  In some ways it is very much so, but in order to fulfill His purpose it was necessary for Him to do the impossible — hated, hunted and hung.

It was the greatest measure of dramatic irony time has ever witnessed.  God knew the end of this story, yet everyone, including satan himself, never saw it coming.  His cunning nature introduced me to a new aspect of Christ’s person that I had never considered.  An aspect of His humanity mixed with the foreknowledge of God unfolded before me Christ — to whom I can say the darndest things!

I know, there seems to be a leap from learning more of His cunning nature to the ability to express myself to Him.  But, it’s not so much how unbelievably smart Christ was [is] as much as it’s about how much He understands how scary it is to live on this earth.  He knows first-hand about hungry wolves and the sheep they appear to be.

And so, as I pulled into the parking spot, it just rolled off my tongue like He was sitting in the seat next to me.  He was near!  I spoke to Him a little different than I normally do.  I said with a muddled tone, “Bull crap!  That’s bull crap and you know it!  Right?  It’s bull crap right?”  And while serious as a heart attack with Him, I paused for a moment and busted out laughing!  I just said “bull crap” to my Jesus!  And He understood me!

I replayed that moment in my head over and over throughout the day.  I had thoughts of whether it was the right thing to say to Him, should I have said it different, and why would I even ask Him that question.  But then He reminded me that I wasn’t the first person to ever talk with Him like that — the disciple who denied Him and the disciple who betrayed Him said it in much different contexts as well.  The text is not the same, but the meaning certainly is.

Why do I mention these things?  It’s to remind me of the Comforter in Him.  He gets me!  Just like I am!  He knows my circumstances and I can be honest with Him, real with Him, expressive with Him as He comforts me and I take refuge in Him!

Lord Jesus, thank you for allowing me to be me with you!  In those moments of shedding facades and becoming vulnerable, show me the path you’ve paved for me and continue to give me wisdom as I step with you!

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.  For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.  Psalm 4:11-12

Leave a comment

Filed under Belief, Book Reviews, Christian Living, In Christ, Truth