3 am thoughts

Have you ever took up your life, forgone the seatbelt and purposely crashed into a wall?

Metaphorically speaking. …I believe we all have at times.

You see, unwise decisions and habitual sin lead to devastation.

Injury.

Death.

And, I have done it myself, speeding along at my will, wrecking my life, and all the while God is watching and allowing me to be wounded by my carelessness.

For example, I’m a writer, and I have many pieces that I’ve written that have not been shared. Many are too personal and many are simply waiting to be finished. Many are finished and the timing isn’t right.

Whatever the reason, when I read over them, I am remembering the WHY of why I wrote them. I can see them for what they are, as well. I know when they are ready and when they need work. I know when, let’s be honest, the written work is not very good. The intention and labor behind it was good, but the body needs a lot of work.

My whole point here is that God knows us and knows when we need work. He knows, probably like a writer too,  that even the best piece can be better. But,  at some point, the piece is just ready, and the refining will come along the way.

And I, in my humanity, can’t wrap my brain around this. I can’t comprehend how I could possibly be ready to serve him and so fallen, so imperfect and so undeserving of his attentions.

Especially, knowing that nothing is hidden from God and that on my own, my righteousness is like dirty rags…. God knows this about me, you, for we are all a people naturally bent towards rebellion.

Even more so…..

God knows us and our capacity to forget him.

Can you imagine? What if you had a spouse, and you knew that your spouse’s natural tendency was to forget you? What if you caught your spouse cheating, but it didn’t shock you because you knew it would happen?

But, what if you still loved your spouse anyway? What if you let it go at his or her own detriment, knowing all the while the damage they would do, but vowed  to wait for their return, anyway?

Wouldn’t we question the sanity of the faithful spouse I just depicted?  Yet, that is exactly what God is like. He is our faithful bridegroom.

We deserve divorce papers, but instead, he draws us into his will

We deserve separation, but instead he bridges the gap between heaven and hell with his own body, bent and broken on the cross for his glory and for our benefit

Yet, we continue to turn away from him;  we have little indiscretions, big ones, and sometimes, we plainly forget Him.

Yet, there he is..still waiting, still faithful, and still loving us without wanting to shame us, beating us down with “I told you so’s” or making us atone for idolatry because Jesus….

Because Jesus……who left his glory in heaven to walk the roads of humanity and than later… to die for us all, even those of us who spit upon his brow with our total rebelllion.  He embodies true mercy.

True mercy….

I don’t know about you, but I can’t fathom that. I don’t want to most of the time. True mercy is scandalous and makes us want to say  “he doesn’t deserve it! She doesn’t deserve it.”

But,

mercy doesn’t accuse and it doesn’t follow human moral codes of justice.

Instead, it comes, undeserving and so beautiful…and

It’s for those of us, just like me and like you ….who are violently driving themselves towards their death, ready to wreck against an iron wall upon our own violation.

I see that ….

God has allowed me to be the driver to my own death. I see now that He didn’t swoop down to pull me out at certain times.

And, in light of this, I can see that God allowing me to wreck myself is one of the best gifts he has given me.

Because only in the midst of my deep forgetfulness, can I remember how MUCH I need the wonderfulness of his mercy.

God, may your mercies work miracles through me….

-A

Despite All Things, Redeemed

Brave.

Fearless.

Warrior.

Courage, my heart.

For some reason, those words popped into my brain, a vision of letters somehow engraved into thin air…..

And I thought of every bar necklace, every t-shirt, every coffee mug that stands boldly with declaration of intent.

BRAVE

FEARLESS.

I wonder….what if we actually held the sign of our truths? What would mine be?

Fearful….

Afraid….

Insecure…

Anxious….

Lonely….

Regretful….

Not all at once, but sometimes and many times…too many times.

I am a vessel of many feelings, fear probably the strongest and most deceptive of all. Oh fear….what death is born from your whispers!

And,

The older I become, the more this truth empowers me, rushing through my veins and carrying me through unpredictable, volatile, HEAVY, storms:

That

despite all things, I am REDEEMED and living in a yet-to-be-fully-explored FREEDOM, and THIS is the fulfillment of ANY dream, EVERY hope, and where my humanity and eternal JOY collide.

The fear of the unknown?

The devastation of fairy tales ruined?

Rejection and betrayal?

More specifically:

When my marriage is in the desert place, due to our neglect, and as we rebuild, we wait, hand in hand, for the rains? I am still redeemed.

When miscarriage upon miscarriages reveals the betrayal of body to heart? I am still redeemed.

When rejection from family turns spring into winter, chilling your very insides into a frozen congealed mass of tears ready to BREAK out. I am still redeemed.

When anxiety paralyzes and handcuffs and whispers and rages and threatens and tries to re-identify you. I AM STILL REDEEMED.

In the valley of death...I AM STILL REDEEMED.

And this is my and YOUR greatest JOY – the horizon of HOPE waiting …….

THIS is what I believe. And this is what has carried me.  THIS has redefined me and EVERY relationship, my marriage, my perspective, my PEACE and has EMPOWERED me to survive with my mental and spirtual health not just intact, but strengthened. Stronger.

The beauty of redemption is that it changes FEAR into PEACE.

I am redeemed. Today, and forever, redeemed. And I seize that as my biggest WIN, my brightest JOY and my driving HOPE.

I am redeemed. Despite all things, redeemed. We are redeemed. Through all things, redeemed!

 

Thank you, JESUS

Unedited: “The Sower of the Wind.”

After work, I’ll probably be annoyed that I posted this morning’s journal entry without bothering to edit it. I am compelled  to share this in its raw form though…and I hope even there, that it resonates with someone.
DAY 11, #Shereadstruth devotional
“They sow the wind and shall reap the whirlwind.”
Hosea 8:7
 Here I am, more often than not. Sowing the wind. Plowing through air, planting seeds of air, weeding seeds of air, and, sweating,  toiling and struggling, thinking I am sincere, but forgetting something.
 The WIND is an immovable force of nature,  and here I am sowing into her with abandon and all-intention, putting myself in harms way ….
 IN the face of God, his assurance and hope, his wisdom and beckoning call, I fail, time and time again.
 I try to construct my own safety nets. I run to the sight of false hope, disguised as eternity when in reality they are temporary distractions. I hire out for myself lovers, paying them to fill the void within me, when I should be running and skipping back to the cross, where the stripes of Jesus paid everything in my name….
 And, as I do so, my appetite for destruction grows to such an extent that I began to operate from what I need instead of what I’ve already received. I began to operate as a child of a temporary, fading world instead of a child of an eternal, expanding Kingdom.
 Until I see I’m standing in the path of the whirlwind, her winds turning and funneling before me, swelling and growing and whistling with danger.  And then, I look at my sweaty hands, my calloused palms and remember the LORD.
 And in the light of repentance, I see that I’ve placed my hope in the wrong things. I see that I’ve lived so much out of my own strength until I became the mini-little g- god in my own world. Controlling, stabilizing, manipulating, shopping, laboring at the plow trying to produce security in this fallen world , sowing the wind, and working so hard to fight against the pain in this world that looms like a big dark shadow over me.
 But, at the feet of Jesus, my eyes are opened and I’m so ashamed of what I’ve brought to the throne of grace that I began to fall away. And, as I kneel, bits and pieces of my broken heart, my sinful flesh began to fall and I lay before him in jagged fragments; discarded pottery at the foot of the LORD, I am….weeping and ashamed and SO wrecked before Him because NOW I can finally see and it’s not good folks.
 It’s not good. One glimpse into His glory and I break like glass before His face. I can’t handle all that grace, all that mercy , all that FIRE of truth burning before me. So, I break and then I wait for his hand to sweep me away or to do something with all these pieces that are SO shattered it would require divine patience to mend.
 Then, like a warm oil, I feel His hands. The hands of JESUS, who came for sick, broken people like me. The hand of Jesus, with scars from nails driven in, who know how to minister to pain. The hands of Jesus, who are imprinted with hope and mercy for the undeserving.
 He slowly begins to piece me together, taking choice pieces and leaving out others. Even in the remaking, I do not fear. Even in the discomfort, I do not shy away. For I am in the builder’s hands now and He knows what He is doing. And when all that is usable is done, he sanctifies me for his bidding, filling every empty part with the Spirit of the Living God; tracing over every seamed together piece with fingers readied to forever HEAL..
 And when I say, “Lord, look at what I’ve done! Look at who’ve I’ve been! I am not worthy to be YOURS”… He said I’ve made you worthy. 
 And when I say, “But Lord, my flesh is sinful; I am not holy!” He says, I’ve made you holy!
 And what I say, “But Lord, who am I to be with you? ” He says, YOU are mine.
 And before me, he shows me a cross. He shows me everything I’ve done, the sin I’ve confessed and the secret shames I’ve hidden. He shows me every.single.sin nailed to that cross, and I recoil back in shame as I SEE the face of my sin, JESUS, covered with my shame and everything I’ve ever done…
 You see, even though every bible book has told me,  even though I already knew, I realized I didn’t really KNOW.
 But this isn’t the end because the LORD doesn’t’ leave us in grief, to agonize over what JESUS did for us. You See, this is a gift meant to be received with JOY!
 And as He shows me that NOW, because of THIS, I am free, I am accepted , sanctified and that the beautiful process of remaking was because of JESUS’s work at the cross…
As He shows me that I was able to break apart before him and experience his tender hands of grace….
As He sings his song of love over me…As He rejoices over my deliverance with me …
 I weep and sing and dance, simultaneously experiencing joy and agony because this is what it means to be a child of God…
 Being so full of JOY that you shine like the sun, but so in agony over the destruction of sin that you burn for righteousness; this is my heritage.
 And I, the sower of the wind, am now the sower of righteousness now. Planting seeds of hope and eternity, I labor without exhaustion for the LORD is REST for my soul.
 Indeed.
 Amen.

The Woman With The Issue of Blood

We don’t know her name, but Jesus did…
And, just like the world doesnt know our secret sins, our shame,  the infirmities of our hearts, our bones…
Jesus does.
And still…
He waits, among us, Jesus WITH US, and He does not sit still.
No, JESUS continues in HIS work,
Yet….
All the while waiting for a touch made in faith.
TODAY,
As we casually bump into him,
Press into him,
Bumping, shoving, rushing…
HE walks among us and waits for that touch of faith,
Fearful , trembling, but believing.
He makes available to  us the outer garments of His GRACE.
And so…
Let us bring our bodies, weak, trembling,fearful, and stricken with humanity.
And then,
Let us bring our hearts, believing, expecting, hoping, and forging a path through the chaos of distraction.
And finally,
Let us bring our confessions, with great joy!
For now, we are made whole, clean, free; we are justified, vindicated, emancipated, LIBERATED.
For You, Jesus, desire mercy.
You, Jesus, delight in Mercy, abound in mercy AND
You know our names.
You know our names and YOU have made us to be a people on our knees before You so we can arise in the heavenly places BESIDE YOU.
You, Jesus, know our names.
So… we surrender.
We surrender in good faith, and  the fount of our bleeding ceases as the well springs of living water rush in to mend the violence of sin.
Psalm 67: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you”
GOD,
We praise you.
Your grace is inexhaustible. Your affection is without end. Your mercy has no boundaries……
and
You know our name.
Surely, surely, we are blessed.

Daughter, Arise!

I come to you,

Jesus.

falling at your feet,

Jesus.

Fearful and trembling,

Jesus.

– You have every reason to condemn me.

“You harlot!” they say.

– You have every reason to condemn me,

“You sinner!” they say.

– You have every reason to condemn me,

“You leper!”  they say

BUT….

– What will You say?

– Will You say I stole a blessing?

– Will You say my touch has made you unclean?

OR

– Will You call out for, murder, “OH, those righteous stones!”

– What will You say?

But I can’t care! I’m pressing forward,

All I have to do is touch Your robe!

I don’t care, I’m pressing forward,

Because standing there before me walks living hope.

And I’ll risk it all.

I’ll risk it all.

Just to hear You call my name,

“Daughter.”

Glory speaks…..and the heavens rejoice.

Glory speaks…..”Oh, the sound of HIS voice!”

And,

You’ve called my name.

And,

 

I come to you, Jesus.

Falling at your feet, Jesus.

Fearful and trembling, Jesus.

Your glory running through my bones.

Your glory; I’ve seen the face of GOD.

Your glory; I hear my name….

Daughter, arise…

From the ashes, arise…

From the pit, arise.

From infirmity, arise....

From your prison, arise…

Daughter, arise…

Your faith has set you free.

 

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is : God’s Son.

Jesus is : The Mediator between God and man.

Jesus is: The only Being to have lived a life of perfect righteousness.

Jesus is: The Slain Lamb;  The Perfect Sacrifice.

Jesus is: The Atonement for the sins of the world – Once and for all!

Jesus is: ALL authority in heaven and on earth.

Jesus is:  The Living and Appointed Heir of all things.

Jesus is: The Ruler over every corner of creation!

Jesus is: Supreme; He is he ultimate in glory, the ultimate in power, the ultimate in authority!

Jesus is: The Head of the body and the church,  The Beginning and The End, The Firstborn of The Dead!

Jesus is alive! 

Our minds cannot grasp His fullness! Our hearts cannot replicate His goodness! Our souls will not perish in His presence!

Jesus is: the very picture of Grace! He makes us alive, by His grace! Using our tiny seeds of faith, He makes us who were dead in our sin alive in His righteousness!

This is Jesus! He is the Alpha and Omega! He is the Lily of the Valley! He is the Great I Am! He is Ruler, He is Provider!

He is Comforter! He is Rapha-Healer! He is The Chain Breaker! He is the Soul Savior! He is the Death destroyer! He is the Grave Leaper, our Liberator and Emancipator!

He is the Sun of Righteousness! He is The Judge, The Advocate! He is the SIN BEARER!

He doesn’t turn away from the stench of our sins! He isn’t repulsed by the smell of death!

Death cannot arrest Jesus!

Death has no hold on His life! He gave His own life up! He laid His own life down! And He took His own life up again!

Ha ha! Jesus is The Laughter in The Face of Death!  Because of Jesus, we can shout

Death! Where is your sting!

Because of Jesus , we can sing:

THE last enemy of death HAS BEEN DESTROYED!

Who is Jesus? This is Jesus! A worthy-to-be-praised JESUS!   And, this is what Easter, Resurrection Sunday says of Jesus!

This is Jesus; and He has overcome.

Angel’s Song

When all you can do is sing your prayers and pray your psalms until nothing is left but the sound of your fingers sliding across the neck of your guitar….

And, you know that no recording can truly capture the depth of this moment, but it’s ok, because this?

This is the song that angels sing.

Honest and pure. Unaffected. Filled to the brim with the truth of the soul.

So, your heart slides across strings and frets as your fingers follow. All the while, knowing that this moment in time will never be duplicated or remembered or charted….

But, it’s ok.

Because this is the song the angels sing, and it is not meant for this world.

It is meant for this heart.

And oh…

How this heart can sing!

Despite all this, I will worship

God’s worth is not diminished by our circumstances. Rob Miskowski  (from the sermon, Worship Anyway)

At one time,  I struggled with malabsorption issues related to Celiac disease. During one period, it was so bad that I could not accomplish daily chores at home without suffering from pain and fatigue. Even in my sleep, my bones hurt, not allowing my body to rest.

I would read the Bible, pray, and do my best to stay the course. Admittedly, there were many times I didn’t feel like reading the Bible, and many times I didn’t feel God close.  Even more so were the times I stayed in bed, with only enough energy to pray, “I love you God. Thank you God.”

 At some point, the Holy Spirit put on my heart:

“Despite all this, I Am.  

Despite all this…praise God.

And so, this became my declaration everyday:

Enter doubt…“Despite my doubt, I will praise you God.”

Enter fear…“Despite my fear, I will praise you God.”

Enter weariness….”Despite my weariness, I will praise you God.”

“Despite all this, I will praise you God.”

Today, I am physically much better. And yet, even still, I find myself awakened in the dark hours of the morning, heart already whispering,

“I love you God. Thank you God.”

#WorshipAnyway

Quote from Charles Spurgeon

Now, beloved, when you are worshipping God, shout if you are filled with holy gladness. If the shout comes from your heart, I would not ask you to restrain it. God forbid that we should judge any man’s worship! But do not be so foolish as to suppose that because there is loud noise there must also be faith. Faith is a still water, it flows deep. True faith in God may express itself with leaping and with shouting; and it is a happy thing when it does: but it can also sit still before the Lord, and that perhaps is a happier thing still. (Spurgeon)

The Place of Worship is a Blessing

***A few months ago, I shared this with my worship team.  I believe it is important to do more than just practice new songs or grow in our skill sets. We must set our hearts to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and His heart. Furthermore, as worship leaders, we must commit to understanding worship as more than music, more than a gift, and more than a feeling. I hope you enjoy the next series I am sharing, entitled: The Place of Worship Is.

 

The place of worship, which can be anywhere, is a blessing (a gift) for those who worship there

Blessed (Happy) are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Psalm 84:4

Happy are those…

Wherever we are, however we are worshipping, we can be certain that God is listening. We can be certain that he is bending down from the heavens, listening to our praises. What’s more, we can be certain that he meets us in our offering, and finds His dwelling in the midst of our praises.

As we rise to worship Him in spirit and truth, He rises to meet us. The fruit of this encounter is happiness, JOY, strength, hope and peace. Altogether so much more than that great feeling we get after we leave the place of worship!

This makes the act of worship one of our great spiritual weapons. In the darkest night of trouble, our hearts should move directly into the place of worship, fully trusting the power of worship over our circumstances.

So ultimately,

As we give God a genuine expression of adoration and praise,

As we lean our hearts towards Him,

As we sing out songs of praise,

As we dance before Him, with total abandonment,

As we pray and meditate on His goodness,

As we adore and praise him, despite doubts, fears, or injury,

As we sacrifice of ourselves, all in the name of Jesus, day in and day out,

We enter the place of worship.

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LordThey rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong. Psalm 89:15-17

May we all find our way to the place of worship; no matter how we arrive.