Sunday, September 29, 2013

Psalms for Sunday, LXXXI

In the end, what I’ve procured for myself will be burnt up and not useful for anything but what you gave me from your hand will endure.

When you offered me grace, my hands were full of stones I need to build my wall; I had to let go of the stones to hold onto your gift.

Go fight, you said, but gave me no weapon except the blood and my voice. My faith was low, but I gave a shout in obedience and you gave me victory and let me collect the spoils, and not a hair on my head or a bone in my body was bruised or broken.

At my lowest, you took me to your holy hill and showed me the battlefield. There is carnage everywhere but the Lord stands in triumph, and his enemies are cut down before him; and I have strength for the days ahead.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Psalms for Sunday, LXXX

Your love is a tsunami; it washes over me and I’m swept under. I can’t hold onto the garbage in my hands anymore. I let go and in that moment, I know I’ll be okay because you are carrying me in the rising water to higher ground.

Your love is an earthquake; the foundation I thought was secure is crumbled. I look down, absolutely sure I’m going to fall and realize I’m standing on an unshakeable rock. Even if the world rattles and shakes, I will not be shaken.

Your love is a tornado; the wind of your presence is forceful but there is peace at the centre. I keep watch and when your spirit moves, I move also lest I place myself in the destruction of the wind again. Your peace is not stationary, it is a dance that moves to and fro and through you, I learn to keep in step.

Your love is a hurricane; when the warm winds blow and rain begins to fall, the ones that stand tall and rigid and without strong roots are broken and destroyed. But those who are as palm trees bend over and go low. They are the witnesses to your goodness, to your faithfulness; they continue to stand, even after the storm of your love has passed.

Your love is lightning; it lights up the sky. It can be seen from a long way off. The thunder announces its coming and wherever it strikes, it lights a fire. I’ve been struck by your lightning, and I’ve lived – now more than ever before.

Your love is quiet waters; it is refreshing and life-giving. The weary have rest, the thirsty are quenched and the bubbling water soothes and quiets the soul.

Your love is perfect.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Love Others Without Even Trying

I grew up feeling entitled to God’s love, I mean, he’s God - he loves everyone. It’s a requirement, so you big whoop. Except it is a big whoop, it’s the biggest whoop ever. There is nothing bigger or more amazing or impressive than his love.

I hate to admit I was disdainful when well-meaning people encouraged me by saying, “God loves you.” I may not have voiced it, but I was thinking, “Duh, of course he loves me, tell me something I don’t know.” I was self-righteous in God’s love for me and it showed in my ministry to others. I served out of a heart of duty, rather than a choice to love. It was exactly how I viewed God’s love – as a duty, not a choice.

I was wrong.

God is love (1 John 4:8). It’s impossible to [truly] know God without coming face to face with the realization of his love.  God doesn’t love me, or anyone else, because of duty but because he is love. I could park on this truth and never come to the fullness of it for all eternity; my mind gets wobbly at the thought but I observed something else: the more I understand God’s love for me, the greater my capacity to love others.

Once I understood this equals that, I put to rest all shame-based guilt to add “love people better” on my growing list of Bible commands I was failing miserably at. When my prayer and desire is for me to have more revelation of his love, I don’t even have to pray, ‘teach me to love others more’ because loving others is a natural by-product of growing in understanding of God’s love for me. It’s a win-win.

I have many favourite worship songs; they seem to be linked to and change with different seasons or lessons I’m learning but one song that stays consistently in my current playlist is the song, Amazed, by Desperation Band. The bridge goes like this:

Lord I’m amazed by You
Lord I’m amazed by You
Lord I’m amazed by You
How You love me

The more I understand about his love, the more amazed I become. I slip back into feeling entitled when I stop being amazed by his love. My desire is to continue to grow deeper in knowledge about his love. I want to always be amazed because then I’ll never have to worry about generating love for others.  It will just flow.

What about you? Are you amazed by his love?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Psalms for Sunday, LXXIX

You remain faithful even when I am faithless; you pursue me gently, reminding me of your presence and your goodness. Though I wander away, you are all around me. There is no place I can go where you are not there; nothing is too much for your goodness to transform it.

Your love amazes me and I have not even grasped the tip of your love. Let my desire be to forever discovering your love; let it sweep me away like a tsunami. Let me be swept away and never recovered.

There are moments when all I want is you. Lord, forgive my faithless heart, and turn my moments into a lifetime. “Take my life and let it be consecrated, my Lord to thee,” make these words be the true prayer of my heart.

When I lose my way, keep calling. I’ve tasted the sweetest perfection and without you there is nothing I desire more. You are every good thing I’ve ever wanted.

You remain faithful, that all I need to know.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In Need of a Culture Change

If you were a fly on the wall at my house (or more likely a wolf spider in the corner), you’d think one member of our family believes the world is going to hell in a hand basket and it will only get worse and the other one is naively idealistic and thinks nothing is impossible for God. Spoiler alert: I’m the naive idealistic.

My Man, a new believer, echoes the culture around us. Sadly, he also echoes a majority of Christians as well. By and large, most of us are in survival mode. We put in the time here on earth doing what we can to hold on and not get swept away by the current of defeat, and seismic social injustices until the day when we are whisked away to a heavenly refuge, far away from the troubles and problems of this world.

It’s been a process for me – to change my way of thinking from “Get me out of here” mentality to understanding God’s desire for reality on the earth [now] is supposed to model the heavenly reality. I’m not being naive to place my faith and my hope that the kingdom of heaven is truly at hand (within reach)  because it is the message Jesus preached (Matthew 10:7). 

Has anyone seen the movie, Milk, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, a homosexual turned political gay activist? He began to turn a culture around from believing homosexuality was a mental disorder to normalizing it in society. He did this by encouraging anyone who was gay and “in the closet” to come out. He [correctly] reasoned if everyone knew someone who was gay (their doctor, co-worker, best friend, or their child) people would change their homophobic way of thinking. It took a generation but it worked. We no longer have TV shows like Leave it to Beaver, instead shows with ensemble casts usually showcase a gay or lesbian couple, such as Modern Family (which I love, by the way) and it is no longer shocking or different.

I think Harvey Milk was onto something. What if believers stood up and took action? Could we change a culture? Could we sway an entire generation to think differently? I believe to the very depths of my soul that the Bible is true and [truly] nothing is impossible for God. We need a reformation; God has done it before and he can do it again.

We are not defeated, and the world is not going to hell in a hand basket. It’s time for Christians to stand up, and declare the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and within reach. The Bible promises when we confess Jesus is Lord, we will be saved and not be put to shame (Romans 10:9,11). Either Jesus is Lord, or he’s not. If he isn’t then I agree there is no hope for us but if Jesus is Lord, then he is Lord over all – including our culture.

I need others to participate with me and voice their declaration of the truth. Nothing is impossible for God. He can heal cancer and he can transform hearts and change the way a generation thinks. If there are more who believe the same way, it will no longer be counter-cultural. Martin Luther King Jr. pioneered a culture change about the way we thought about black people; Harvey Milk pioneered a culture change about the way we think about homosexuals. What are you pioneering?

The kingdom of heaven is full of God’s glory and goodness; let’s walk out our lives in faith in response to the truth and watch the tide of change take hold in our culture’s thoughts and values. It really is that simple. We walk by faith and truth; the Lord will do the rest.
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