BLOGGED: Today is the day!

Today is the day!

Today, the risk to remain a bud is greater than it is to bloom.*

Remaining motionless has become disobedience,
a direction leading to spiritual death,
a path I’m unwilling to follow.

I would rather fear the leap of faith into the Unknown
than fear the Unknown itself.

My heart is set on obedience, with all it’s fearsome loveliness.

And so I walk, determined to be faithful,
in every step and stumble,
in every praise and grumble.

Today, I say, Hineni.

Here I am, LORD.
Send me.

*see Anais Nin

BLOGGED: “I had begun to skim the surface of a life that I was created to dive into.”

Waves of grief lap endlessly around my ankles, beckoning me to wade into the murky depth of gut-wrenching emotion.

The warmth of the familiar tempts me to step toward the incoming tide.

Yet, I resist.

For the moment, a fear of drowning in the abyss shields my tender heart, protecting me from further pain.

If I close my eyes, will it go away?
No, and I will miss so many good things if I’m not looking for them.

Do I really want Fear to guard the door of my heart?
No, Fear is not my friend.
Fear seeks to kill and destroy.
So much death already…
No more.

As the pool of feelings grows still deeper, I begin to panic…only to find that kicking and fighting against my powerlessness stirs the undertow of despair.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Then, His words speak softly to me in my turmoil,

“Be still.
Cease striving.
Know that I am your God.”

As Peace floods my soul like a river I’ve only sung about, my flailing efforts at self-preservation desist.

A calm washes over me and I remember to breathe again as I adjust to floating gently on the surface of the ongoing emotional tidal waves.

I float lazily for awhile, feeling safe from the deep beneath me.
My floating is comfortable…easy…effortless.

Suddenly, I am awakened from my complacency by the words trailing through my brain…
Since when did “safe”, “comfortable”, “easy”, and “effortless” describe the life of a disciple?
Never.

In my desire to avoid the wounding that the world sometimes brings, I had closed my heart to everything…the bad as well as the good.

No more tears but also no more laughter.
No more loss; no more love.
No more rejection; no more acceptance.
No more hurt; no more healing.
No more pain; no more tenderness.
No more breaking; no more redemption.

Woe is me…I had begun to skim the surface of a life that I was created to dive into.

I finally understand that, in order to delight in the beauty of God, I must embrace the tragedy of His creation.

Now, I’m suited up and prepared to swim to the depths of emotional challenges.

I will drink deeply from the cup that has been passed to me, ever grateful for the opportunity to share in Yeshua’s joy as well as His suffering.

Oh, to waste even one day of this precious gift called Life…May it never be said of me!

BLOGGED: Sitting at the feet of my Rabboni

Of all the words that could be used to describe a disciple, the one that I often find to be the most challenging is “teachable”.

If I’m being really honest, my flesh tries to reject it at every opportunity. Being teachable requires something that does not come naturally to me: humility. It confronts my hard-hearted pride and demands submission, not only to The Lord but also to others. It acknowledges that

I don’t have all the answers,
I can’t do this alone,
I need community.

When I read 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for

teaching,
for rebuking,
for correcting,
for training in righteousness,

so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

I see in myself that I would much rather

teach than be taught,
rebuke than be rebuked,
correct than be corrected,
train than be trained.

But at what cost?

If I believe God’s Word — and I do, this verse and others tell me that the cost is

righteousness,
completion,
being equipped to do good.

None of which are acceptable losses to me.

So, I persevere through the rigorous, daily, flesh-dying discipline of self-control, trying all the while not to grumble.

Now that I’ve recognized this desperate need in my life and prayed these words of surrender:
“LORD, speak for your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:10),
I feel like I am beginning to see the precious blooming of fruitful labor.

Every conversation, every interaction I have with someone, is an opportunity to sit at the feet of a rabbi and learn.

“Everyone capable of being a rabbi?”, you may ask.
Yes, everyone.

Though I learn more from those in my own inner circle, everyone is created in the image of the one, true Rabboni: our Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ). And, it is from that image, reflected to varying degrees in each of us, that I learn. It is that reflection of God’s character in others that teaches me, shapes me, disciples me.

Like Mary did in the tenth chapter of Luke, I linger at my Rabboni’s feet, as I see His teachings mirrored in others.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have as many WWJD moments as I have WWJND moments by opening my heart and mind to learning this way. When I see an action modeled by a rabbi, I prayerfully consider What Would Jesus Do/Not Do as I zealously study God’s Word for evidence of an answer.

I think it’s important to note that any one of these learning styles would not be complete without the others:
Prayer – an ongoing conversation with God, our Father.
Bible study – a deeper understanding of God made flesh through Yeshua, His Son and our Messiah.
Discipleship – listening intently and obeying responsively to God’s Spirit leading me, as well as learning from others who do the same.

It is because of those other disciples that I know what grace and mercy look like, up-close and personal. I have seen peace, love, kindness, graciousness, long-suffering, tenderness, gentleness, warmth, joy, goodness, generosity…

And, every Spirit-filled word has a name and face attached to it.

But, I’m learning that we must, first, BE disciples before we can “Go, therefore, and MAKE disciples…teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20), knowing we are never alone in our efforts.

According to these words spoken by Yeshua, perfection isn’t a requirement for discipleship, but being teachable is. So, I linger as He molds me and shapes me into the creation He designed.

Won’t you linger too?

Adonai, my LORD, Master, and Rabboni, thank You that have created me with a heart that longs to be just like Yours.
“Who am I, that You have brought me this far?” With so far still to go…
And yet, I will keep searching to know You more.
Cleanse me from all unrighteousness, Jehovah-Tsidkenu.
Purify every part of me, Jehovah-M’Kaddesh.
Fill me with Your peace, Jehovah-Shalom.
Hem me in, behind and before, Jehovah-Nissi. May Your glory be my banner.
And, be with me always, El-Olam Immanuel.
In Yeshua’s precious name I come,
Amen.

BLOGGED: I am a disciple

Jesus said, “Follow me.”
I dropped my [own agenda for my] life and followed Him.
I am a disciple.

Like Peter, I am impetuous and bold. I have found redemption from my unfaithfulness and I have a strength that can only be found in Christ.

Like James, son of Zebedee, I foolishly fought to control my place in God’s kingdom and then chose to surrender my will in order to receive my true inheritance.

Like John, I have come to know how much I am loved because of my friendship with Jesus.

Like Phillip and Andrew, I believe wholeheartedly in the Messiah and seize opportunities to share Him with others.

Like Bartholomew, I practice the discipline of my faith so I will recognize the work of God when I see it.

Like Matthew, I have abandoned my old master for a new One. I no longer serve the kingdom of this world but, instead, serve the kingdom of Heaven.

Like Thomas, I have occasionally doubted God’s goodness but I would also die with Him at a moment’s notice.

Like James, son of Alphaeus, though clearly significant in God’s eyes, I know how it feels to seem insignificant to others, as if just one name on a list of twelve.

Like Simon, I am passionate about bringing the kingdom of Heaven to earth and I zealously pursue the kind of Spirit-filled living that carries the aroma of Christ.

Like Thaddaeus/Lebbaeus/Judas/Jude, sometimes I get lost in all my names: Mom, friend, daughter, sister, writer, minister, counselor…I need God’s gentle reminders of who He says I am.

Like Judas Iscariot, discontentment has enabled me to justify betrayal. Judas reminds me that I can have the best teachers and still stray from my faith. And that, sometimes, my testimony will be what NOT to do.

Like Mary, my teacheable heart sits at the feet of wise rabbi-friends and one all-knowing Rabboni.

Like Paul, I have come to understand that knowing the Scriptures isn’t enough. I need the ongoing confrontation of Christ in my life so He can address the appalling disconnect between what I know in my head and what I believe with my heart — a disconnect on display in the disparity between what I say and what I do. The very real difference between knowing about God and knowing God.

I am a disciple.

I stand on the shoulders of disciples who have gone before me and offer a helping hand to those who come after me.
I am a disciple.

What kinds of things have you learned about Jesus from the disciples that have gone before you?

In what ways do you imitate the life of Christ to the disciples following behind you?

I invite you to leave your own thoughts below.

BLOGGED: When God says, “No”

Sometimes, God says “No”.
Moses petitioned God multiple times to let him enter the Promised Land.
God said, “No.”
Paul asked God to remove the thorn from his flesh.
God said, “No.”
I fasted and prayed, desperately pleading with God to soften my husband’s heart about the divorce.
God said, “No.”
We begged God to breathe life into Baby Samuel, to heal Baby Levi from brain cancer.
God said, “No.”
So many answers that don’t meet my expectations of God.
Trying to understand the full nature of God and the reasons He does what He does.
Knowing I never will, this side of Heaven.
Like Moses, Paul, and a great cloud of witnesses, I believe God. I believe He is who He says He is:
kind, merciful, loving, long-suffering, gentle, mighty, mysterious…
And, I trust Him in the No.
I praise Him there.
I thank Him for His mystery.
If I could explain Him fully, He would be as small as I am.
I surrender to His overwhelming capacity to baffle me.
It is in the surprises, the unknown, the unfathomable that I find His Yes:
Yes, I am holding you.
Yes, I am loving you.
Yes, I am healing you.
Yes, I am protecting and providing for you.
Yes, I am bringing about good from this.
Yes, I am worth it.
Yes, I AM.
These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews11:13-16 HCSB)

BLOGGED: Re-orientation

Did you know that, until about 500 years ago, scientists used to think that Earth was the center of the universe? So, why did this theory, known as Geocentrism, fall out of favor with scientists? Because their solar system measurements were not lining up with reality. It wasn’t until Copernicus, later supported by Galileo and Kepler, postulated that the sun was the center of the universe that calculations began to make sense. That Heliocentric theory (believing that all the other planets rotate around the sun) is considered the most accurate way to view our solar system today.

 

These scientific theories, and our ever-changing capacity to understand the things we can see, are perfect examples of how re-orienting our thinking affects our ability to grow in the knowledge of God:

 

I am not the center of the universe. God is. 


If I find that my life is not measuring up to God’s standard – standards He established in His Word – it may be that I need to re-orient my thinking so that it is centered around God and not my self. If I am struggling with spiritual disappointment (the feeling that God has somehow let me down), perhaps I need to remember that I am not created to invite God into my life but, rather, God has created me as an invitation to join Him in the things He has purposed for this world.

 

Let me be transformed by the renewing of my mind and aim for Deo-centric thinking instead of my usual Egocentric way of life. 

 

Changing my thinking from “Who is God to me?” to “Who is God?” can have a dramatic affect on my ability to believe. Once I go from seeking His hand to seeking His face, I’ve traveled only a couple of feet with my eyes but I’ve covered miles within my heart. What’s the difference? The intimacy with which I walk with Him.

 

I’m no longer standing next to my Father; I’m nestled into the soft spot of His neck.

 

Knowing who He is and that His nature is not dependent on who I am, I am free to live my life as an offering…for His glory, not my own.

 

 

Praise the Lord!


Praise the Lord from the heavens;

praise him in the heights!

Praise him, all his angels;

praise him, all his hosts!

Praise him, sun and moon,

praise him, all you shining stars!

Praise him, you highest heavens,

and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord!

For he commanded and they were created.

And he established them forever and ever;

he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,

you great sea creatures and all deeps,

fire and hail, snow and mist,

stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills,

fruit trees and all cedars!

Beasts and all livestock,

creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples,

princes and all rulers of the earth!

Young men and maidens together,

old men and children!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,

for his name alone is exalted;

his majesty is above earth and heaven.

He has raised up a horn for his people,

praise for all his saints,

for the people of Israel who are near to him.

Praise the Lord!

—Psalms 148:1-14, ESV

PRAYED: Naked before the LORD

LORD, please forgive me. My garments of pride and self-sufficiency keep me from being naked before You…

The more I resist Your revelation of my need for You, the more of my old wardrobe I am wearing. In that separation, do my words clang like cymbals in Your holy ears?

My hard-hearted unwillingness to confess keeps me in my sin. My unwillingness to be broken before You and others keeps my tongue from speaking authentic love.

Forgive me, O LORD, and wash me white as snow. Pour Your new mercies upon me this morning as my need for You is greater than my desire to have my own way.

I need You to dress me. Clothe me in Your salvation and righteousness instead of the shame and pride I am wearing. Strip me of all that my flesh clings to and dress me for action in Your power. Cover me with Your armor.

May my life bring glory to You this day.

THOUGHT: Grieving

Yesterday, denial.

Today, pain & sadness.

The advantage in walking through the grieving process with friends is recognizing the stages as you encounter them yourself.

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life.” —Psalm 119:50

QUOTED: “You are precious simply because you are.”

“You are precious simply because you are. You were born that way. To see that, and to be grasped by the reality of it, is to love.

Experience seems to indicate that harmonious relations are possible only when that attitude is maintained. This universal law has been stated in many ways – by the Jews as a simple and direct command of God, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ The clause, ‘as thyself,’ correctly implies that ‘love of self’ is innate. Every person senses instinctively the priceless nature of his own being, and reacts reflexively to preserve it against any threat.

More specifically, each of us is automatically ‘defensive’ in the face of perceived rejection. To be ignored as though I did not exist, or to be treated as though I were worthless, is repulsive. Instinctively, spontaneously, I react to affirm the priceless nature of my own being by becoming angry and lashing back or, feeling very hurt, by withdrawing within some protective shell to safeguard as best I can the treasured ‘me’ I know I am.

But my reaction to being ignored or rejected has also a second purpose: to demand by angry words or pouting that others recognize the preciousness of the self I am, and respond accordingly. Such demands fail because in making my demand, I reject and ignore the very persons I want to love me; and once horns are locked in that way, the only solution is for one or the other of us (or both) to adopt an attitude of love – to see and affirm the other to be as precious as I am, no matter what his performance.

I have never met a human being who did not have similar spiritual reflexes. Because to love one’s self is a ‘built-in reflex.’ Each of us was created that way.”

-Dr. Frank Kimper
Claremont, CA, School of Theology