Friday, March 3, 2017

Broken and Spilled Out

Broken  and Spilled Out.....

The words hit my heart fresh again as I approach this season of Lent and ponder the brokenness and the spilled out giving of my Savior.  All the while pondering what it looks like for my own life to be broken and the things that need to be broken off.  Self-centeredness, idols, desires, agendas and dreams that are rooted in me and not in Him.  What does it take for my life to become broken bread and spilled wine for those around me to taste and see that He is good?  And, do I want that? These are questions to marinate in for the next 40 days, really for the rest of my days.

In conversation with a heart sister this week we talked about the tension we live in.  The tension between what we know is of God and the brokenness that is around us that seems to consume most of our attention.  Maybe that's it!  The tension that I despise most days, that is between what I know about God and His goodness and the broken pieces and people, and the tension between what I know I should do and what I do, is really intended to be the instrument to break me.  This tension is to cause me to run in desperation and surrender.  The broken interruptions in my life, the lives around me, and in our world is the very pressure needed to get me to the end of my thoughts of being able to fix it or take care of it.

My eyes fell on this paragraph in Ann Voskamp's book The Broken Way today,

"Interrupt comes from the Latin word that means to "break into".  Love is the willingness to be broken into.  There are never interruptions in a day only manifestations of Christ.  Your theology is best expressed in your availability and your interruptability and ability to be broken into.  This is the broken way.  This is all love.... I will only love as well as I let myself be broken into."

This's His love. The love that is like a river that flows full, free, and with abandonment in a life and vessel of surrender, the kind of love that eclipses me and the kind of love that I cannot muster up.

I pray often, less of me and more of Jesus, asking for brokenness and a heart that spills out His love. Yet, how tightly do I cling to my own perceptions of how He will accomplish it?  The way of broken and spilled out comes by the way of the cross, with surrender, suffering, and yet screaming and demonstrating lavish love.

Still learning,

Monday, February 13, 2017

Life is Messy

We are constantly talking about doing life on life with each other.  Promoting the kind of living that goes way beyond surface, the kind of living that says, " I will enter in and walk beside you, no matter what it looks like".  God-like kind of living that communicates that we are not going to abandon you or leave you.  You can't shake me off by your behavior or words. We all long to feel that kind of love and commitment.  The one that Christ can only fully give and yet asks us to participate in by being His hands and feet to those around us.  Shouting the gospel as we offer a hand, a hug, a word of encouraging truth, a plate of cookies, a shoulder to cry on, and or a meal around our table. On the surface that sounds really beautiful doesn't it? Often it is, but often it isn't until we walk through.  The walking through often isn't even pleasant let alone beautiful!  Why?  Because life is messy.  Which causes us, who are hopelessly flawed and riddled with sin, insecurities, and in constant need of the gospel and direction ourselves, to be messy.  There are messes that I'm convinced will always be presented because of this human condition that is desperate for transformation from glory to glory.

People will choose their own way over God's way, resulting in a mess.
People will not desire wisdom, resulting in a mess.
People will make plans without considering how it will affect others, resulting in a mess.
People will be self absorbed and play the victim, resulting in a mess.
People will refuse to take responsibility for their actions, resulting in a mess.
People will desire to be in control, resulting in a mess.
People will be unwilling to wait, resulting in a mess.
People will self-promote and need to be dominate, resulting in a mess.

I don't think that we even make it a consideration when choosing our own way and believe that left one second to my own thinking, apart from the Spirit's guidance, I'm headed to the mess.  My assertion is that we should make it a consideration! We need transforming power.

2 Corinthians 3:18
"But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Living translation...

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord, who is the Spirit, makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image."

Truth:  Everyone is transformed by what they set their gaze upon, what they worship.  If my gaze is focused on myself, my situation, or what I believe is my plight, then my transformation is self to self. Not helpful... If my gaze is fixed upon the Lord then my transformation is from glory to glory.  Because we continue to reflect what we are looking at. My ONLY hope.....

Knowing that I don't always get this right, I need grace to extend to others when they don't get it right.  Remembering that we/I have been entreated to walk in a manner worthy of my calling. My calling is to live out the gospel!  And in living out the gospel with others, I am to live with humility, (knowing Who is in ultimate control) and gentleness (velvet covered steel) that is coupled with patience (a long walk in the same direction even when it is tiring and messy), and make allowances for other's faults (recognizing they are doing the same for me!).  And, while I'm do that work hard at preserving unity with the Spirit's help (because I can't do it any other way!) for the purpose of bonding people together in peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

Still Learning....
Written with love and conviction.....

Monday, January 16, 2017

Spiritual Investments

I've been camped out in a passage of scripture over the past week.  Matthew 25 and Jesus' parable about the talents.  The man who owns property goes on a trip and entrusts his property to his servants in the form of money.  He gave his three servants different amounts based upon their ability.  The first two servants when he returned had doubled the money.  The third servant was afraid and thought he would play it safe, dug a hole and buried the money.  The man came back from his long journey to be delighted about what the first two servants did, taking risk and re-investing his money so that it would produce more.  He was furious with the third slave telling him he could have at the very least put the money in the bank so it could have earned interest with no risk, instead of out of fear burying it in the ground.  So many things Jesus wanted to push into the hearts listening and into mine in the past few days.

He has entrusted His property to us; His Spirit, His Gospel, His gifts,His kingdom, His investments.  His investments in our lives come in many different sums.  As I was thinking through my life I easily listed the times and places that He taught me or invested something in me through the many people He has brought through my life, churches that we have been apart of past and present, and the teaching of biblical truth from men and women who have walked many years with Him.

I realized that it just isn't the great or victorious moments that constitute spiritual investment, but it has also been the trials that have been His investments.  The times of grief and loss, the moments of crossroads, and the five years of wilderness.  In as much as each caused me to cling to Him, know Him more, and make Him known more, it is His investment. Each grew and formed and produced more of Him.

Playing it safe out of fear is not an option.

Recognize Who's you are....bondservant of the Lord

Recognize what you've been entrusted with....
     natural abilities + supernatural gifting + spiritual investments = kingdom multiplied

Recognize the time you've been given....
     we are in the in-between, He is returning from His long journey, our one responsibility is to be doing something with what we have been entrusted with.

The investment is directed to everything kingdom; gospel, salvation, discipleship, church planting, growing the next generation, using our resources accordingly, living faithful,  and living holy.

Faithful is He who calls you, who will also do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:24 (that's a good word)

Thinking 2017 will be a year of investment and probably some risk........

Still Learning,

Monday, January 2, 2017

Noodles On the Floor and Dust in Cracks

Years ago we traveled to visit friends.  While staying in their home I would rise early put on the coffee and sit for a few minutes of quiet before anyone else would get up. One such morning I had my bible on my lap and coffee tightly held in hand (my favorite posture, pajamas still on of course!) when I dropped my pen.  Getting out of the comfy chair to search for my pen under the chair, I discovered something, spaghetti noodles! Now my friend was a great housekeeper and I'm sure she had done everything that a hostess does before guest come for a visit.  But there they were, hard, indicating they had been there for awhile, and stuck to the floor. They were cemented like a statue erected to stand the test of time, a monument to a busy wife and mom!  As quietly as I could I moved the chair, got hot water, and began the process of scraping, scrubbing, and prying those noodles off of the floor.  I never told my friend of my discovery, certain it would mortify her and get one of her children that had clearly had an accident with a plate of spaghetti but didn't clean it up completely, in big dog trouble!  I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I found a layer of dust in plain site in my home. I must have looked at it a thousand times but somehow missed it every time.  Our entire family once again squeezed themselves into our little cottage over Christmas.  I had scrubbed and planned for days in preparation for these moments.  We laughed, we cried, we sang, we played, we prayed and we gathered around the table.  Those are the ingredients that make the gathering of family for this mamma. Now let me clarify, lest you are thinking a "little layer of dust"or "write your name in it kind of dust"... OH NO!  It was take your finger and scrape large whole families of dust bunnies up, use a broom, or better yet a vacuum cleaner to get it all up kind of dust!

A few things ran through my mind.  First, I need someone who sees better than me to clean my house! (Pretty certain that won't happen) Second, my kids probably all saw the dirt and just gave me grace, like I did my friend years ago. A perfect house and a perfect life really isn't the goal anyway, or it shouldn't be.  Third, it's okay to let people see our noodles on the floor and dust in our cracks. It's taken me a long time to come to those conclusions, but living in community with authenticity has resulted in such freedom and growth in my life, and in many lives around me as we walk out sanctification together, that I'm not going back!  Back to the days of painting a picture of what I want you to see or giving the appearance of having it all together.  Yep, it's better this way.  

Another thought that ran through my mind is how many times I looked at that dust and dirt and didn't see it.  How familiar we become with our own lives and the dirt we let lie in the cracks.  After all who will see?  Push all of that stuff in a closet somewhere and shut the door! It's a new year, time to do a little house cleaning spiritually, physically, financially, and emotionally. (And clearly some actual house cleaning for me)  Maybe now is the time or this is the year to ask God to move the furniture and get the noodles of sin, idols, and unbiblical thinking unglued from our lives.  Maybe today is the day to ask Him to clean out the cracks and crevices of our lives, you know the recesses that no one can see, but you and Him know they are there?  The dust and dirt of unforgiveness, hurt, and selfishness.

Oh Lord turn on the Light, search us and try us and remove the noodles under our chairs and the dust in our cracks.

One more thought that ran though this overactive brain of mine;  how He uses the mundane dailies to continue to teach this hopelessly flawed woman. That thought delighted my soul......

Happy New Year!

Always Learning,

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Theology Is Our War Plan

I heard the phrase again this weekend, "theology is our war plan".  It resonated deep inside of me.  I believe this to the core of my being.  My fear is that in the culture we live in and even in our church culture we have become so celebrity focused that we go clamoring after the next book, bible study, and or blog that has the most popular name attached to it and leave behind the Name that is above every name.  We possibly are learning a lot about God through someone else's lens or life experience but we have failed to know God for ourselves.  I talk to women all the time that spend time reading books, blogs, and listening to pod casts and somehow equate that with the study of God's word and knowing Him.  It's not...  I too read blogs, books, and listen to podcasts but they are tools.  Nothing can substitute sitting long and often at His word learning to feast through the study of Him written on the pages of holy writ.

Theology is just that, the study of Him.  The knowing Him.  Practical theology is then knowing Him and acting like you know Him in the daily routine of life.  That's where theology being our war plan comes into play...the daily stuff like marriage and parenting, like work and church, like interacting with your neighbors and those crazy shoppers out there!  We need a war plan, a strategic and intentional plan to wade through our lives.

There has been one paragraph written in a book by Elyse Fitzpatrick titled When Life and Beliefs Collide, that was so pressed into my life upon reading it, I have it printed out and read it about once a month and I think I have included it in just about every bible study I've done with women in the past five years.  It resonates deep inside of me as well because it describes what it means to have theology as our war plan.

"The great women theologians I have come across cultivated the habit of using their theology in the here and now.  What set these women apart--kept them from sinking when everything else was going down and strengthened them to lend a hand to others--was their unblinking focus on God.  They were serous about knowing him and studied the scriptures with that intention.  They nurtured their faith on the truth of God's character so that, instead of starting over from scratch in each new situation, wondering if God's goodness had expired or if he had somehow lost control, these women fixed their eyes on him and actually put their weight down on the truth.  No matter what the challenge or the adversity, their ironclad conviction was that he is always good, is always on his throne, is always working, always knows what he is doing, and that his love for them never stops.  They were not passive with their knowledge but consciously took it up and confronted life with it. Their hearts were strong because they were sure of God.  It made a difference in their running, and what is more, because their eyes were fixed on Jesus, they were better wives, mothers, daughters, and friends."

What is your war plan?
Our husbands, children, neighbors, and world need women of theology.
Challenge: Know God and live like you know Him.

Always Learning,
Psalm 119:90-91

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Difficult People or God's Messengers

Let's get truthful....
We all have difficult people in our lives!  Can I get a witness?  The difficult comes in different packages and in varied ranges.  From the person who cuts in front of you at the grocery store, or that one who has 496 items in the 20 or less check-out. (that last one gets me EVERY TIME!) Or maybe your difficult person is in your family or a neighbor or co-worker.  This person could be one who is pushy, domineering, wants to control you, a know-it-all, inconsiderate, hurtful in their words, betrays your friendship, the list can go on and on and  the level of hurt can cut deeper and deeper.  They can be the person we have never met or they could be a person up close and personal, which is where the deeper and deeper scenerio comes in.  I have grappled with some of the same questions you have.  Jesus' words ringing in my ears to love God and love people.  Constantly asking what does that look like?  What does that kind of love say and do?  We are, as followers of Jesus, asked to deny ourselves, pick up our cross (identify ourselves with our Savior), and follow Him.  There is not a pat answer, oh how I wish there was, it is much easier for me to live with a list! If I have a list then I live by the list instead of by the One who made me and gave me the relationships.  I have come to believe that denying self sometimes requires saying nothing AND sometimes the highest form of love and denying self is speaking a hard truth for the sake of another. Speaking's motivation is always desiring God's highest good for another, which takes me out of the equation, my feelings and thoughts, and puts God's desires for another above my own.  I think it means granting access with authenticity and vulnerability with some AND creating boundaries. He gets to tell us what His will is in each situation and each relationship. But, if we are not walking with Him and our ear is not attuned to His voice then we will not hear His direction.  Hard?...yep.... Worth it?....Yes.

I have been taking this year to re-read some of the words written by men and women that God has used in my life to mentor and disciple me.  One of those women is Elisabeth Elliot.  Her words on difficult people spoke to me once again as they did years ago.  "How can this person who so annoys or offends me be God's messenger?  Is God so unkind as to send that sort of person across my path?  Insofar as his/her treatment of me requires more kindness than I can find in my own heart, demands love of a quality I do not possess, asks of me patience that only the Spirit of God can produce in me, he/she is God's messenger.  God sends him/her in order that he/she may send me running to God for help."

Perspective?  or  Perspective Shift?

Jim has called people like described above as, "holy sandpaper".  The likeness is not lost on me, sandpaper is rough, abrasive, hard...(fill in your own adjectives) but sandpaper has a purpose, it's purpose is to sand off rough places of whatever it touches.  So the possibility exists that the difficult-sandpaper-people are sanding off rough places of me.

Oh that my perspective would be swallowed up in Jesus'.
Always learning,

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Jeremiah 29:12-14
"Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.  And I will be found by you, declares the Lord..."

Matthew 7:7-8
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find, knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

Moments in quiet solidtude this morning revealed the condition of my heart.  The condition of a soul that had grown cold in her love for her Lord.  Still going about the motions and yet lacking that warmth that only comes from long and often times at His feet being inraptured  with who He is and His amazing love and care over my life.  As a result my reach towards Him and others always becomes more dutiful rather than delightful and the fullness of the flow of His life eclipsing mine seems to be slowed because of the barriers of self sufficiency and task.  In confession and repentance He turned His grace towards me and kindled the fires that warmed this cold soul and sent the flood of His eclipsing life pumping through my spiritual veins once again with newness and vitality.  Oh the grace and goodness of our Savior.....

I have surrounded myself with a few of the books that made much impact in my own discipleship to re-read this year.  Today as I found myself in this position I picked up one of those books and found that Father was orchestrating my steps even through the condition of my heart, He knew what He would bring, He knew what words He would speak, and He knew He would capture my heart once again.  

A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God
"Why do some persons "find" God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course the will of God is the same for all.  He has no favorites within His household.  All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children.  The difference lies not with God but with us.... I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity.  Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward....Simply that they had a spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives."

Receptivity; having the quality of receiving, taking in, and or admitting, being quick to receive knowledge....

Oh that I/we would come, pray, seek, ask, knock, sit long and often, so that we would possess spiritual receptivity and that it would move and urge us Godward.

Challenge: Where's your heart? Has it grown cold?  How's your receptivity?

Always learning,