Sunday, April 23, 2017

Psalms for Sunday, LXXXIX

original painting by Danielle Schneider


Tearing and repairing.
Up and down.
Going and returning.
I am unstable in all things.
I am a contradiction; drawing close to you for a moment, then wandering recklessly away.

But you, Lord, you are unchanged.
Your ways are new, but never contrary.
You are steadfast.
You are a Rock, and I anchor myself to you.
Your fire never diminishes.
Your refreshing is forever pleasant.
You are the Constant One.

I trust you, and I find my peace.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Psalms for Sunday, LXXXVIII



original painting by Danielle Schneider
Oh, happy day! Jesus is the Way!
Celebrate because sadness and grief are replaced with gladness and relief.

What a glorious morning, the sun rises in the east, and you rise with it.
Death is not an enemy; it has no power over heaven.
Is there a better reason for my soul to sing?

You kept your word. You live forever, and forever we, your people, will rejoice with song and dance.

Oh, happy day! Jesus is the Way!
Celebrate because sadness and grief are replaced with gladness and relief.

Praise Him with song.
Praise Him with dance.
Whirling, twirling, shouts with glee;
You have not forgotten me.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Psalms for Sunday, LXXXVII


original painting by Danielle Schneider

Your words, God, are wonderful for me.
They are the very source of life.
If you didn’t speak it, I would never be free.
I become unfettered at their hearing.

Speak, and speak again; I am listening.
I will tune my ear to hear; shout your instruction, whisper your love and I will hear and respond.

In tenderness, you share your secrets.
I am so alive, so free to be loved, and love you in return.
We are lovers where intimacy lingers and pleasures unfold.

All my imperfections are made perfect at your touch, at your word.

Go, my Love, into eternity, and call to me from there. I will come.
I want to be where you are; I want to see the sound of your voice.

Speak, Lord, and I am changed.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Thriving, Not Just Surviving (in the desert)



I love the desert. I grew up in the prairies among rolling hills and wheat fields – I didn’t love it. I left my parent’s home in 1992 to spend a year living in the Austrian Alps - I loved it. For the past 24 years, I’ve lived on Canada’s west coast, virtually at the water’s edge - and I love it, even when it rains. I’m a West Coast girl through and through but still, I love the desert.

Over the last 4 years I’ve driven 20,000 miles traversing across the western USA, mostly with my Boy and sometimes with my Man when his schedule allows it. The world is big and I want to see all of it. I usually don’t like to spend time returning to a place when there is so much more to experience, except the desert. I keep going back to the desert.
The desert surprises me, and I love surprises. At first impression from my vantage point inside the car, there isn’t much to see and it’s hard to imagine the desert being able to support much life. Once I step out of my air conditioned vehicle and into the hot sun, I don’t have to imagine anymore. I know there’s no possible way anything can survive the heat. I think to myself, “This is what hell must feel like,” and I’m grateful because that is as close to hell as I’m ever going to be. But no matter, I’m there for an adventure so I slap on some moisturizer, drink a bottle of water and forge ahead into paths unknown.

Before too long, it’s obvious there is life in the desert; there’s lots of little animals and short, low-to-the-ground vegetation. It’s hard not to be impressed with what is able to survive in the desert, especially in comparison with where I live – perpetual green, and huge, towering vegetation and large wildlife, in and out of the water. You don’t even have to try to grow something on the coast. I’m a terrible gardener but even I can’t muck it up. If I forget to water the garden, it rains making me look like I have a green thumb. In the desert, though, only the toughest and meanest survive.


The desert gets a bad rap because it is hard to survive there, but not impossible. It requires grit and endurance. But even in the desert, you can find an oasis. An oasis is a fertile spot, where water is found. But what does it take to make an oasis in the desert? It’s still in the desert, in the middle of scorching heat and dry winds, but vibrant, rich and full life exists.

Our natural world provides an incredible visual understanding of we can’t see or understand, but still feel in the spirit realm. Scripture speaks a lot about the desert (wilderness). The Israelites literally walked through it for 40 years. Elijah was sequestered for three and a half years. Even Jesus was lead into the wilderness for 40 days. If the Father didn’t spare his chosen people, or a powerful prophet, or His own Son, then it’s unlikely anyone who is in relationship with the Father should expect to avoid a desert experience.

I won’t go so far as to say I love the desert - spiritually speaking – but almost. I definitely like it, and if a desert experience is eminent, I’ll run toward it willingly. I don’t love working out, but I love the overall wellness it adds to my life. I am resolved to go after everything the Lord has available. The Bible is full of testimonies of individual men and women, and nations who went through a desert experience and came out the other side. They are always blessed because of it. The Israelites received the Promised Land, and Jesus returned – full of power.

Recently, I’ve turned my attention from only surviving a desert season, to wanting to thrive in the midst of the trial. I want an oasis to spring up, and I want there to be life in the process, not just on the other side. The Father revealed His thoughts on how to make it happen.

Are you ready to have your head blown?

It’s...

(drumroll please)

...worship.

God wants worshippers. He’s wanted it from the beginning and it’s the only way to thrive in the desert; the only way to become an oasis.

Exodus 3:12, God answered, "I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain."

In some ways I’m like a petulant child, I hate being told what to do. I love to worship but being told I have to makes me want to dig my heels in, and refuse to open my mouth. I’ve struggled and complained and argued with God a lot over the years about this exact issue…until, I finally shut my mouth and quit my whining long enough for God to show me who He is. Once I understood who He is, the only choice I have is to worship.

When God said to Moses, He was bringing the Israelites out of Egypt so they could worship Him, or when Jesus said (John 4:23) He was looking for worshippers, what He is saying is that He wants to demonstrate Himself so fully to us – his children, our only response is worship. Therefore, worship is the fruit of knowing God. When the right condition exists, i.e. God reveals Himself so we may know Him and His ways, then worship proceeds as a natural response.

Even the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15) is not really a sacrifice (something we give but don’t want to) because the sacrifice of praise is the fruit of lips that continually confess His name. Fruit is produced because of the environment where it grows has the right conditions for growing fruit. In the case of Hebrews 13:15, the right condition are lips that continually confess His name.

A desert experience, then, is designed to allow us an opportunity to know Him better, so we in turn will worship. Worship creates an oasis, a place where we thrive, even in the midst of the desert. Worshipping in sight of our enemy is a pleasure we will not be able to participate in eternity. When we are finally with Jesus in glory, there will be no more enemy, and the opportunity to worship in the midst of the desert, or in the midst of a trial is lost. He delights in our worship at any time, but thriving in an environment where, by all accounts, it looks impossible, gives God even greater glory and He responds back by turning His face more fully toward you.

John 4:23, Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Does Faithfulness Equal Blessing?



I’ve been under the heavy hand of the Lord lately. I'm feeling like a cup of packed brown sugar, pressed down – not from rebuke or correction, but from blessing and overflow. I’m not complaining at all. Given a choice between rebuke or reward, anyone would choose reward. As I’ve shared my experiences with friends close to me, they’ve celebrated what’s happening for me and offer comments, such as, “The Lord is blessing your faithfulness,” or “You’ve been faithful all these years, and the Lord is rewarding you.” I appreciate their sentiments, but is it really because I’ve been faithful, or is it because He is faithful?

For every outward witness of faithfulness on my part, there are at least as many (and much more) times when I’ve been faithless. I know my heart, and my thoughts –scandalous at best and heinous at its worst. Paul said, “There is nothing good in me, except Christ,” (paraphrasing Romans 7 & 8). Sadly, how much more true it is of me. So, no. To my friends I say, “Thank you for observing Christ in me, but His blessing has nothing to do with my faithfulness, and everything to do with His faithfulness.”

2 Timothy 2:11-13, The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

He remains faithful. He is faithful to the ones who are more mature in their faith than me, and He is also faithful to the believers who put themselves under opposition because they believe lies rather than walk in truth. He sends rain on the just and the unjust. It’s who He is, and He can’t BE anything different.

It’s dangerous thinking to say, our being faithful equals God’s manifest blessing. It leads to performance, which is something I struggle with already; I don’t need further justification to move in that direction. But then, what can be said of the recent blessings and forward movement? If there is a correlation between something I’ve done, and the subsequent blessings it is this:

Luke 1:45, Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.

I’m not the only beneficiary of this promise. What has He whispered to your heart? What plans is He making with you? Dear one, believe His words. Hold them onto them as your hope. They are true and trustworthy.

The Lord spoke some specific words about my life, my future and my legacy – the works He had planned for me; and for those works to come to fulfillment, it required His blessings (open doors, opportunities and favour). I believed His word to me. He did everything.

All Christians everywhere are included in the promises we’ve been given, which are in the Bible. God is working out history to be His story. God is all about the big picture and yet He is in the details too. He’s incredibly intimate and personal with each one of us, and He has a purpose and plan just for you. It’s unique, and tailored to your expression of His character on the earth. For some it may coincide with earthly riches and fame with influence which is deep and wide. For most of us, let it be enough that your name is celebrated in heaven and feared in hell. No matter what though, enjoy His blessings in the process – it’s not what you do, but what He does.

God alone is faithful, He cannot deny Himself, and His promises to you - to us - are faithful to fulfillment.

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