Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where Red Lanterns Sway

We have just returned from a land far away, a land where roads are named after silk, a land where my feet love to walk, and a land where red lanterns sway in doorways, alleyways, and storefronts.

Once again I left pieces of my heart on Asian soil.  And I wonder, will there be a day when no piece remains? Could I even hope and dream that the sum total of the the pieces of my heart would be torn and spent?  I have again returned with less than what I left with, but somehow more. This is a great mystery to me.

This is the third time we have been asked to enter into the discussion of marriage and family.  The daily workings of living gospel centered and how that works itself and it's power in to our daily lives, marriages, families, and churches.  The invitation always causes us to tremble and the actual conversation makes us keenly aware that we are nothing and have nothing to bring to this table but Him, His word, and two messed up vessels that long to be clean and usable.  And two vessels that are trying desperately to understand this truth daily also.

So we speak His truth.  We wait.  We wait on Him and we watch.  We watch Him.  We watch Him take His word and apply it to lives.  And, there is where the beauty is.  In the midst of this unfolding story we are certain most days we don't have what it takes.  We find ourselves uncomfortable, sitting in the dirt of our own selves and plagued with "first world" inconveniences.  And even there He doesn't shy away from us,  He gently says; "will you trust Me?".

I have heard their stories.  Stories of hardship, trials, and persecution.  And my soul is embarrassed and ashamed of my discontentment.  I have heard the declaration of joy of having been found worthy to suffer for their Lord.  We teach some days six to eight hours.  They think we have come to teach them, but we always leave knowing we came so that He could teach us.  Teach us more about Himself, His power, His sufficiency, and His faithfulness.  And, He did.....

We watched Him change hearts and minds as they considered the gospel being the reason for all.  We watched Him open up the ears and mouths of translators.  We watched Him bring conviction and repentance to husbands and wives.  We watched Him bring brokenness. We watched Him answer prayer.  We watched Him change marriages, families, and churches.  We watched Him provide opportunity  to share the story with those who had never heard it or the Name that is above every name! We watched....He worked....

In one testimony a man shared that he had despised his wife their entire 20 plus year marriage.  He saw her as a detriment and holding him back.  He told of how God had convicted him.  He publicly confessed and repented in front of everyone.  He said that he wanted to receive his wife as a gift that God had given him and together he desired for them to live, letting God write His story using their lives and marriage.  He said that he had asked God to forgive him.  He then turned to his wife, who was dripping tears, put his arm around her and asked her to forgive him in front of a crowded, watchful room.  He reached in his pocket and removed his handkerchief, gently he wiped her tears as he spoke words of love to her.  From pain and hardness because of confession and repentance, flowed a beautiful brokenness.  We could all almost smell the sweet aroma in the air.

We watched....He worked...

He worked on me as well, as He continues to teach me that pieces of heart invested  in others and a willingness to be torn is really what surrender looks like.  Keeping no pieces for self.

We began our journey in the early hours of a July morning watching the sun rise and we ended our journey on an August evening watching the sun set like a giant red lantern in the sky.  Father displaying His majesty and faithfulness.  He opened the door to this journey and He closed the door.

Pieces of my heart forever torn and left in the land where red lanterns sway.

Empty yet full....

Still learning,

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Very Old Friend

She doesn't have a name, she's a woman, she's a widow,  she's a mother,  she's a neighbor,she's a woman in need, she's a woman with a crisis, and she's woman who can't fix or change her current situation.  With that being said I guess she does have a name.  Her name could be Sue, Linda, or my name for that matter, Kim.  Because we as women can or will be able to identify with most of those descriptive words.

On this day, this woman feels like a very old friend to me.  We have been spending time together for over a year.  Oh her story is just that, a story to most of us, tucked away in seven short verses in 2 Kings chapter 4.  Seven verses that over the course of a year the Lord has been pressing into my heart.  Principles and responses that He desires for me to learn.  This woman and I spent time together as I told her story to a group of women here in Oklahoman and again twice as I have spent time with woman on foreign soil in the past few months.  In each gathering we were asking; what does it look like to trust, and what does it look like to be a woman who responds out of what we know to be true about our God?  

Her story teaches me about posture.  Posture is intentionally placing ourselves in a position.  Her posture was to run to the man of God and to cry out to him regarding her life.  My posture? The intentional position I am to place myself in?  Running to God alone, crying out to Him in my need.  She teaches me the principle of participation.  She was willing to be obedient no matter what it looked like to those around her.  Often God ask us to participate with Him in His plan for our lives, that at the moment make no sense to us, let alone those observing our lives.  She doesn't argue, she doesn't ask for clarification.  She does what is asked of her even though it may make her look foolish.  Something I have learned from this truth? My obedience doesn't look like yours and yours doesn't have to look like mine! No one gets to tell me what obedience looks like except the One asking. This woman and her short story has once again pressed into me the importance of the shut door.  Crazy God things happen behind shut doors!  What happens behind shut doors is the sitting at His feet, Him speaking, the confession, the wrestling, the learning.  and the real filling.  We all want to be filled but often we don't want to do the work required to be emptied.  So when we come to Him we are so full of things that consume us there isn't much room.  The word fill in scripture means to satisfy something.  You can't satisfy something that is already half filled with something else.  No, getting really empty is behind the shut door stuff!  It's hard's life work.  Work that goes on everyday behind shut doors with our Lord pointing out the stuff that needs to be emptied so He can fill...satisfy us. What happens behind the shut door isn't for the masses, it's for you, it's for me, it's for Him to teach us and show us what it means to be satisfied.  And when we are those satisfied and filled vessels, then it is the overflow,the splashes that hit and dance off of those around us like sweet rain on dry ground. Those are the splashes for the masses, because they are Him. The oil flowed, it flowed freely, it flowed to it's fullest...until... "she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." and he said to her, "there is not one vessel more." And the oil stopped."  When there ceased to be an empty vessel the oil stopped. Those are sad words to me, and yet all that had been poured into her and those vessels were God's abundant provision.  Lessons to learn and to keep on learning.

While teaching, one very creative woman wrote down these poetic words.

My cup was emptied; I lifted it up.
None could ever fill it just quite enough.

I met Him - the flowing, living water.
did I find for my soul fountains like no other.

For my part I can choose to thirst no more.
For His part He reminds me that's what empty vessels are for.

And what remains? Splashes for the masses.
Sprinkles of grace.
To make them thirsty - deeper waters await.

My very old friend from 2 Kings 4, her life and story is still speaking and teaching.  What are our lives speaking and teaching?  It's His story and He uses your life and my life to write a few sentences of His continuing and amazing story of grace.

Still learning,

Friday, June 21, 2013


When I was a little girl I went to church every Sunday. Sitting in our Sunday school room complete with little wooden chairs, flannel graph story boards, and the air smelling like cookies and juice; we would sing a catchy song that went like this; " I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart...and if the devil doesn't like it he can sit on a tack...." I know if you read those words and you remember that song, you just dated yourself like I did!  As a grown woman the theology of this catchy ditty has just not been able to see me through the days of raising children, transition, hardships, and the out-right yuck, that we all experience in real life. So I have sought more...

Joy, the dictionary defines joy as great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; to have pleasure; to have delight in something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.

This morning I was pondering this thing called joy.  Truthfully it has been at times illusive and something that I have sought.  I have observed it in lives and faces countless times walking on foreign soil. With people who have little to nothing in possessions. I have experienced joy in it’s purest form as I have worshiped with Asian believers in a church that was a tarp stretched over bamboo poles.  I have tasted it as I ate the finest meal I have ever eaten in a home in Burma, with believers, on a dirt floor. These experiences have begged the question of me, “what is this kind of joy?”

This kind of joy is not earthbound; it is of a higher plane.  I have become convinced that what my joy is tied to is what I am abiding in.  If there is a circumstance or person that can rob my joy, then my joy is earthbound.  David, in the Psalms, tells us that in the Lord’s presence is fullness of joy and that He makes us joyful with gladness in His presence. Joy is fruit that is produced in us as we live in and walk with the Spirit of God.

I would change the definition above only slightly to read;
Joy: Great delight caused by Someone fully good and fully satisfying; having pleasure in Someone who is greatly valued and worshiped above all.

My joy is to be tied to His presence and is a gift from Him that I must fight for. As we walk through our dailies authentic joy is constantly threatened.   

I found the following Fifteen Tactics For Joy written by John Piper.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

How shall we fight for joy?
1.                             Realize that authentic joy in God is a gift.
2.                             Realize that joy must be fought for relentlessly.
3.                             Resolve to attack all known sin in your life.
4.                             Learn the secret of gutsy guilt — how to fight like a justified sinner.
5.                             Realize that the battle is primarily a fight to see God for who he is.
6.                             Meditate on the Word of God day and night.
7.                             Pray earnestly and continually for open heart-eyes and an inclination for God.
8.                             Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself.
9.                             Spend time with God-saturated people who help you see God and fight the fight.
1.                         Be patient in the night of God’s seeming absence.
1.                         Get the rest, exercise, and proper diet that your body was designed by God to have.
1.                         Make a proper use of God’s revelation in nature.
1.                         Read great books about God and biographies of great saints.
1.                         Do the hard and loving thing for the sake of others (witness and mercy).
1.                         Get a global vision for the cause of Christ and pour yourself out for the unreached.

Great words for walking this thing out called life and great words to learn how to fight for this non-earthbound thing called JOY!

Still learning,

Psalm 16:11, Psalm 21:6, Galatians 5:22-23

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sifted, Stripped, and Pruned

They had just had dinner together.  All of them must had been sensing the heaviness, Jesus saying he was going to suffer and not eat or drink this meal again until the kingdom of God comes.  He then declares that the one who would betray him was seated at the table.  All eyes must have darted around the table. Discussion ensued about whom the betrayer was and then a dispute about which one would be regarded as the greatest.  We often do that as humans, in an effort to not confront what lurks below our surface, we run through the list in our heads of why we are pretty “good”.  In the middle of this exchange Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.”  I don’t know about you, but at this point if I was Peter I would be looking at Jesus, the one who calmed the sea, healed diseases, and cast out demons to back that statement up with, but don’t worry….I stopped him!  Or…I won’t let that happen!  But, that is not what was spoken. Jesus said, “but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  The sifting happened, the violent shaking to cause what was to remain to remain, and what was not fruit to be sifted, stripped, and pruned out of Peter’s life. 

When I am getting ready to bake a cake, I gather all my ingredients, read the recipe another time, and begin the process.  When I read in the instructions to sift my flour I question it, every time!  I think, “Do I really need to do that?”  The sifter I use is one of those old fashion ones that is metal with a wire mesh at the bottom and a crank handle on the side.  I pour the flour in and begin to crank and the flour that comes out the bottom of the sifter is finer, lighter and fluffier than when it went in.  The reason I want to skip this part is because it takes more time.  It’s an added step and requires dirtying another bowl and the sifter.  But the desired result is worth it.  Sifted flour always makes the cake fluffier and lighter. Sifting does require more time.  In fact I believe we go through seasons of sifting in our lives, as like Peter our Intercessor Jesus stands and prays for us.  That our faith won’t fail.  The result of sifting is a stronger faith, one that we can strengthen others with.

It has been almost two years since we believed God invited us to come to the plains and let Him speak to us.  This has been a season of sifting for us.  I have leaned on the words spoken to Peter and Jesus’ words in John 15 and they have spoken life to me in this sifting season.  It has been painful as the sifting has identified lumps in me that were pride and idols that he wanted to remove. I have grieved and cried as God the perfect gardener prunes and strips those things off of me that are not of him, until the only attachment that is left is the one…me and Him…abiding.

We are a couple weeks away from the wheat harvest here on the Oklahoma plains.  As the big combines roll through the fields doing their work, they will cut, strip, and thrash the wheat until the golden brown kernels of wheat fall almost in submission to be used. And yet have no say in what manner they will be used. With the sifting and with the pruning there comes the promise of faith, fruit, and further usefulness.  Submitting to the process has had a high price but learning what it means that he is my portion and my cup, is priceless.

Still Learning…

With much love,
Luke 22:31-32John 15:1-11Hebrews 12:27Hebrews 7:25, Psalm 16:5

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Peace On Earth

Peace on earth goodwill to men….

Webster's definition of peace; 1. The normal, non-warring condition of a nation, group of nations or the world. 2. A state of mutual harmony between people or groups. 3. The normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community. 4. A cessation of freedom from strife or dissension.  If I only look at these definitions to tell me if peace exists, I would have to answer with a resounding, NO! Every one of these statements place peace with the human condition and that just isn't a safe place to base our peace.  I too am guilty of thinking that my peace is tied to the absence of conflict, trials, and hardship in my life. The peace we seek is not earthbound…

I have thought much about peace in the last few days as tragedy and evil ascended on an elementary school, as I visited with a single mom desperately trying to hang on to her home and children, as an abused and weary woman asked for prayer, as I watched a mother who is facing extreme health issues sing praises.  As a little boy, around the age of ten, on his way home from school walked by my house dropping a load of heavy boxes, I asked if I could help him home with them and he cautiously said yes. I helped him pick up the boxes, his books and violin.  I asked him are you wrapping Christmas gifts in all of these boxes?  He hung his head and said, “No, we don’t have any heat at our house, but we have a fireplace and I found these boxes in the trash at school, so I waited until everyone left so I could get them and bring them home to help start a fire.”  I thought of peace when I saw my own grandmother with her Alzheimer induced mind living in anything but.  What about peace for the thousands that live in slavery, abandonment, hunger, and danger everyday?  I asked again of peace last night standing in the cold talking to my new friend Alvin, homeless, alcohol addicted and hungry.  The peace we seek is not earthbound….

The prophet Isaiah prophesied about Jesus coming, saying; “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”  Jesus is the Prince of Peace!  When the angels heralded the birth of Jesus they sang praises saying; “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men, with whom He is well pleased.”  The Prince of Peace, Jesus, stepped into our human existence as a man and Peace the person dwelt among us.  When Jesus had finished His task on earth and was on His way to the cross to secure our victory and peace, He spoke these words, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  His life here on earth was book-ended with Him as Peace.  This peace is defined as; “rest, the end of striving, this peace is the object of  thedivine and saving promise, and is brought about by God’s mercy, granting deliverance and freedom from all distresses that are a result of sin.”  That is why the message of salvation through Jesus is called the gospel of peace.  The Peace we seek is not earthbound…

This peace we all seek is not found apart from the person of Jesus.  It is not the absence of trials and hardships it is an abiding knowledge of relationship with the Person of Peace, Jesus.  How I live in that…I’m not exactly sure…by faith…  I keep asking the Prince of Peace to show me and to rule over my heart.  This Peace?  It is divine!  The peace we seek is not earthbound….

Praying the Prince of Peace is known this Christmas season and through the coming year.

Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:14, Colossians 3:15, John 16:33, John 14:27

Peace on Earth song by Lila Mccann;

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wimpy Women

I read John Piper’s words again this morning; “Wimpy theology makes wimpy women.  Wimpy theology simply does not give a woman a God that is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, and good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that magnifies the infinite worth of Jesus Christ.  Wimpy theology is plagued by women-centeredness and man-centeredness.  Wimpy theology doesn't have the granite foundation of God’s sovereignty or the solid steel structure of a great God-centered purpose for all things”

I remember a commercial that aired years ago for Hefty trash bags, at the beginning there would be a chorus of soprano voices saying; wimpy, wimpy, wimpy and about that time the trash bag that the woman was struggling with would bust and trash would spill out creating a terrible mess. Then a chorus of very manly baritone voices would say, “hefty, hefty, hefty, and the woman would effortlessly remove the bag and all the contents would stay put.  What a great word picture! Wimpy theology holds nothing; hefty theology holds me and my circumstances because it is based on the truth of who God is.

Several women agreed to join me on this journey this fall.  We looked at Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, David, and Jehoshaphat and asked simple questions, like who does God say He is? And how do we see God’s redemptive history, as every story we visited showed how God is always about rescuing and redemption.  I have constantly confessed that I don’t want to be a woman who learns theology over and over, saying that with each new circumstance or trial, I must learn the same truth over again. But one who learns theology more and more, deeper and deeper.  I want to be a woman that is not passive with knowledge, but confronts life with the theology He has pressed into me.  That all sounds great doesn't it? But the struggle is that it has challenged me in so many areas of life!  I have had to ask myself why I believe the things I believe and why do I respond the way I do?  Leaving me often in a place that I have to honestly say, my reality doesn't match my theology.  But…that is the process….recognizing more quickly…..running more swiftly… Him….His truth….His ways…. We made a list of all the theology He revealed about Himself over the past twelve weeks.  It is lengthy, but it is also faith building, truth centered.  And as I seek to not be a “wimpy woman” a list that I will cling to…pressing forward….Kim

God will do what He says He will do.
God is faithful.
God is provider.
God is redeemer.
God initiates, provides for, and completes redemption.
God displays His lovingkindness.
God strives with man.
God changes our name.
God is sovereign.
God is always writing His story of salvation.
God is with us.
God is passionate about His name.
God is the one true God.
God is a God of providence.
God hears us.
God sees us.
God places His people in positions to trust Him.
God has done everything to secure my victory.
God is the living God.
God always keeps covenant.
God is always about restoration.
God seeks us.
God has power and might in His hands.
God is always for His glory and my good.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Under the Wings of God

I have the sweet privilege to be studying God’s word this fall with some amazing women.  We are taking some of the familiar stories of scripture and asking God to teach us about Himself, to teach us theology and to sink it deep into our hearts.  This week we studied and looked at the beautiful love story of Ruth.  I ran again into a truth that the Lord has been pressing into my life for a few years.  When Boaz says to Ruth, “may the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully.”  The wings of God…such imagery…such beauty…such rest!  I remember the precious moment that He let me feel the reality of His wings.

We had traveled to a far away land, to a country that is closed to God and to His life rescuing hand.  Yet up in the mountains of this country there is a pocket of many believers, a result of missionaries that 150 years ago invested…and gave their lives for the people of the area.  We were sent to encourage the body.  Jim would meet with the pastors in the area and I would meet with the pastor’s wives in a retreat setting.  They traveled for miles, some of them three and four days for two days of teaching.  The week was hard spiritually and physically with the conditions we were in.  We came to the end of the week totally spent and fragile.  One of the pastors asked if we would please spend our last evening in his home.  It is against the law for foreigners to be in local’s homes so we went there in the cloak of night, in a torrential rain storm and on a motorcycle!  I remember being on the verge of tears when we arrived and having thoughts that I could not muster up one more ounce of energy.  We walked into their home.  It was modest, mats on the floor, four chairs, a dirt floor kitchen, and a wood burning stove in the middle.  It was rainy and cold, the warmth of the stove felt so good on our wet skin.  But nothing compared to the warmth of the couple that we shared the space with.  The pastor/husband could speak English but the wife could only say a few words.  So everything that was said was said with interpretation.  After entering we were served hot tea and seated on two of the four chairs.  Our hostess then scurried out of the room and reappeared.  She unfurled a beautiful shawl, made with traditional colors of deep burgundy and green.  Her husband explained that she was a weaver and had made the shawl herself.  She would later show us her loom as she sat on the floor, the loom securely on her lap and the tension peddles being controlled by her feet. She came over to me offering me the shawl, she then once again unfurled it, came behind me and wrapped me in the bright colored cloth and her arms, whispering some of the only words she knew in my ear, “be blessed Kim”.  I was wrapped in love.  Under the warmth of this woven treasure I was overwhelmed with the sense of belonging, a place of refuge, a place of care. The Lord used it to heal me that stormy night and to teach me the refuge that is found only under His wings. I kept wrapped in the shawl for the rest of the night and even now often I will make a cup of tea and wrap myself in it.  God’s wings are our refuge, shelter, covering, resting place, a place we can sing for joy.  Learning to not look to anyone or any other place for this is the journey.  Even Jesus stood on top of a hillside over looking Jerusalem and said how He longed to gather them under His wings. 

Learning to stay tucked under His wings.

Be Blessed!
Psalm 17:8, Psalm 36:7, Psalm 57:1, Psalm 61:4, Psalm 63:7, Psalm 91:4, Duet. 32:11, Matt. 23:37

A beautiful song written based on Ruth 2:12 by a gifted singer/song writer, Mandy Mapes.