Friday, December 14, 2007

Listening to God - My experience

Thank you all for your answers and input. I agree with all of them. Unfortunately, being in perfect agreement does not lead to a very lively discussion, but it does edify and lift up. =) Here are my thoughts. Sorry to be so late in publishing them.

Recently, because of having to make some decisions, my belief about most of these questions has been reshaped. I find that God continually puts me in the position to re-think what I believe about Him. Is it not laughable how quickly we decide who God is and how He acts? No matter how often I remind myself that He is infinite, I always put Him into finite limitations. He seems determined to strip away any theological formula that I have built and rested upon as solid ground. Apparently, He will not share His glory with theological formulas.

In the decision I had to make, I knew that all three choices were good. I just needed to know which one He wanted me to take. I asked my parents and they thought any of the choices would be fine. He didn't use a verse to guide me. There was no guidance that I could see.

So, I asked people I trusted about how God generally leads or speaks to them. Through different people, by the agreement of the Bible and my spirit with little things they would say, God did speak to me. Not about where to go or what to do, but about how to trust Him.

I was, unknowingly, afraid God would punish me for making the wrong decision. Maybe I should choose something that would deny my flesh? Okay; but in this situation every decision was going to be a place of self-sacrifice and ministry to others.

This is what God did say to me when He wouldn't say what to choose:

Lauren, is your flesh crucified with me or isn't it?
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)

Am I your life or not?
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Have I given you a new heart or not?
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

These took away my fear. Could it be true that, "There is no fear in love . . ."? I decided based on what I wanted. Could it be true that He gave me the desires of my heart because I delighted in Him and His will?

If God does not write your future for you on the wall, if He opens the doors to more than one good and God pleasing option; please do not fear but step ahead in faith. Faith in His goodness.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Listening to God - Your opinion

I have decided I'm tired of posting as though I am the greatest of the wise guys. In other words: It's your turn! Let's get some good web conversation going.

If you have an opinion (don't fool yourself, you know you have one!) then answer one or more of these questions:

  1. Does God still speak?
  2. Has He ever spoken to you?
  3. Is there only one godly choice for every decision?
  4. What happens if you miss God's best?
  5. How long do you wait for an answer from God?
  6. How can you be sure it is God speaking?

Of course I have an opinion too. I promise I'll share it in a day or two.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'M HOME!!!!

I was just re-reading my last post and all of your sweet comments. I promised to return with testimonies of God's goodness and He has not disappointed. It amazes me that those three names I asked you all to pray for were, just a few short weeks ago, nothing but names to me. Now they are full of meaning. People that I love, know, and miss being around.

I was constantly amazed that I even cared, much less had a passion to share about who God was to me. A year ago I could have taught the Bible just as any Pharisee could have taught the law: boldly perhaps, but without joy or lasting change in myself or anyone else. Now, what Who I believe makes a difference in my life and I no longer doubt that it He can make a difference in other's lives. I have Someone worth sharing and He is so much more than a law, a religion, or a book. (Yes, even the inspired book.)

My "wisdom searches" or "God searches," as I preferred to call them, were a continual act of faith. Just because I was passionate about what I shared did not guarantee that it made any sense to others as I jabbered about it. But, God did good things in spite of my jabbering and even, sometime, through and in my jabbering! As I was saying, God is good.

Many girls went home knowing God in a more personal way than when they arrived. Excel is a place for girls to admit that they have questions, doubts and fears about God; a place to admit that they have believed and acted on lies. It is also a place for them to bring all of these to God in honesty and find that He is not offended or surprised. In fact, they find that the more honest they are with themselves and Him the closer they are to Him.

As God taught me what I was teaching others, that without Him I can do nothing, and with Him I can do all things, He began applying it to prayer. He taught me to trust Him to pray through me according to His will and leave all the questions up to Him. This is a miracle to me.

Although many or most of you have heard me pray, just believe me that I am a good actor. When I would decide to pray, in a group or by myself in the woods, I would literally almost choke on the words. I may be dramatic, but I'm not that dramatic; besides, I really wanted to pray.

Sometimes I just felt silly, sometimes I felt that I was trying to shout to someone on pluto, sometimes my mind just wandered, sometimes I knew my heart was so hard that I needed God and that God was the only person I couldn't connect with because I had a hard heart. Consequently, my "prayer life" was limited to 15 minutes of trying about twice a month. What God taught me about prayer during Excel was only a small step towards becoming a prayer warrior, and a giant leap towards trusting God.

This is a small random snippet of what I want to tell you all. I trust God that He put something worthwhile here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Goodbye notes

Dear all,
this Thursday I am leaving my sweet little home for the dark ages. In short, this blog will not be updated till some time after November 11th.

I leave on Thursday to become a team leader in the infamous girls discipleship program EXCEL.
For those who have asked I have compiled a short prayer request list.
please pray for:

1. The hearts of the girls who are coming.
They may be anywhere in their spiritual walk from not believing in God to having believed since they were three. Some don't want to be at Excel. Excel 29 is currently the smallest ever with only about 24 students. An average class is usually around 60. The noted difference in size makes me wonder what God is up to. Are these girls going to be the type that we are really grateful they are only three to a team instead of nine or more? Or does God just want us to take our eyes off of numbers to give us a glimpse of what He sees? There are three girls on my team their names are Celeste, Kelsey, and Carri.

2. The team leaders
There are seven of us, we will be going through our own behind-the-scenes discipleship class as we help make these girls successful in this one. We are only barely a step ahead of these girls, in that we have been through Excel and already 'know the ropes', yet we will be the ones they look up to.

3. For me, that I would learn to pray.
As God continues to build me from the 'great spiritual crash' in the summer of '06, I believe that trusting Him to teach me how to pray is next on His agenda. It is a slow process however, and I feel like I've been put in the real sword fight before I have been taught. On the advice of a friend, who didn't even know that I had been thinking about the topic of prayer, I have been reading Andrew Murray's The Ministry of Intercession. I'm about half way through. It is an excellent book, I highly recommend it.

4. For 'Wisdom Searches' every morning.
These are bible studies that I will be leading for my team. God has really put some stuff on my heart to present to them, but these are things that only His Spirit can really reveal. Pray that they will have eyes to see and ears to hear and that nothing thwarts His plan.

While I'm there I will only be able to communicate through snail mail. I think you should all have my address, but if you don't you can get it from Gracie.

Thanks so much my friends. I'll see you in nine weeks with testimonies of God's goodness.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

there is an I AM and i'm not Him

God has been teaching me again. Actually I believe that He teaches me all the time. Maybe the difference is that I've been learning again.

I quit Christianity. No, I've not converted to Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, or Islam. I've just realized that I'm a nothing. I quit, not because I don't believe it anymore, but because I realized that I already wasn't.

Have you ever noticed that if it were possible to be the kind of Christian that we keep trying to become, then we wouldn't have any need of Jesus? Go, read Matthew 5, 6 and 7. This is what a Christian should look like. You who call yourself a Christian, is that what you look like?

If it isn't then what are you going to do? Has God set us up to fail? No. Jesus did come. Matthew 5, 6 and 7 is definitely not a picture of me; but it is a picture of Jesus.

Are we still trying to annul our need of Him, by becoming perfect 'for Him' or 'with His help'? I don't deny that God helps us. But in any other context we think of help as something we only need when we get in really tight spots, every now and then, and often as our last resort. I personally need a lot more than just help.

God has taught me a game. I'll call it the "I'm not I AM" game. I think of something that I'm not and He replies with what He is. Like this:

Me: I'm not loving, I really don't love my family.

God: I AM Love. I AM the only one who can love your family.

Me: I'm not a good friend either. I keep letting people down.

God: I AM the perfect friend. I'll never let you or them down.

Me: God, what am I supposed to do, don't You expect anything of me?

God: I expect only what you are capable of. What can you do?

Me: I can't do anything.

God: Good, then I'll do everything.

Am I crazy? Probably. This is one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me. I love this game. It may sound silly, but I promise if you try it you will find it very practical. Sometimes I play it with Him just for the sheer joy of hearing Who He is and everything I'm not. But other times I play it as a weapon.

Mom calls me to do something when I finally thought I was done.

Me (through gritted teeth): I'm not respectful, and I don't even want to be obedient.

God (chuckles): I AM, and I AM. I'll do it.

It is amazing, suddenly the fight is over and everything is off me.

I'm not, and I don't ever want to be again.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Truth Who Set Me Free

I have previously been taught that the struggle against our flesh was something like having a white dog (God's spirit) and a black dog (our flesh) both living in the same kennel (ourselves). They are mortal enemies and are fighting all the time, but only the one that you feed will win. So, although you have these two fighting, it is your decision who wins. At first this sounds very reasonable, but as I tried to just feed the white dog by doing what was right, my black dog overpowered the white dog and effectively stole its food.

In more spiritual terms: no matter how hard I tried to do what was right according to the new spirit God had given me, my flesh still won at least ninety percent of the time. Even a non-Christian can do what is right ten percent of the time. How then, was my belief in Jesus helping me or making me any different than the rest of the world? The only difference that I could see was that I knew what was right so I had more guilt when I failed. I had no peace and no joy, and when I was really honest with myself, I wasn't sure if I loved God like I professed.

I obviously had some skewed ideas of God. First, I used to believe that God loved me unconditionally but He also wanted me to know that I was just a worm in the dirt and I had better be grateful that He took notice of me. I now believe that this mindset was a tactic of Satan's, ninety percent of the truth and ten percent deadly lie. Have I done anything to deserve God's love? No. But neither has a new born baby done anything to deserve its parent's love. God really does love me unconditionally as parents love their children. There is nothing that I can do that will change His abundant love for me in any way.

Second, I thought that God expected me to live up to the law. I understood that I was not under all the rituals and sacrifices of the Mosaic law. But there is a law in the New Testament. Jesus says things like, "You have heard . . . 'You shall not commit murder.' . . . "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty . . . whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:21-22) and other verses such as "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy . . . " (1 Peter 1:15)

Needless to say I failed again and again. Satan used John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." to accuse me that I did not love God because I failed. He also used a skewed version of Philippians 4:13, something like, "I can do all things." to remind me that God said I could do it, but that I just wasn't trying hard enough. I always felt guilty, and yet I came to a place where I knew I could try no harder. I was defeated.

I now believe that although God wants His law obeyed, He is well aware that I am incapable. In fact, that is why He created the law, to drive me to total dependence on Him. I now read Philippians 4:13 something like this, "Without Christ I can do nothing, not even tie my own shoes, but if I trust that Christ is living in me then my body is consequently capable of doing everything that Christ is capable of doing." It is no longer a matter of obedience for me, Christ in me is the one who will handle the obedience, for me it is a matter of belief. It is not just a belief in God, which is something demons have as well, "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder." (James 2:19) I believe God. I believe everything that He tells me. Demons do not share this belief, they believe God is a liar.

"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!" (Romans 6:1-2) Let's imagine for a minute that your dad is perfect, he has always loved you perfectly and you have never had even the slightest reason to distrust him. You have such a good relationship with him that even when he tells you things that you don't understand you believe him explicitly. You are young enough that you do not understand fire but you have figured out how to strike a match. So you strike a match and are fascinatedly watching it burn towards your fingers. You are inexperienced and have not figured out that it is heading towards you fingers, nor are you aware that it will hurt when it gets there. It is just a pretty, harmless toy to you, no different in your mind than many others that your father has given you.

Your father walks into the room, quickly takes in the situation and your inexperience, and tells you to drop the match. First, you are so excited that he is in the room that the match is no longer interesting. Second, you love to have an opportunity to obey him. Now, are you going to fight with him about why you should drop the match? Is it going to be a big internal struggle for you to obey? I don't think so. Does he mean for you to do exactly what he said? Of course. Are you still perfectly free to disobey him? Yes.

Jesus living in me and acting through me has not abolished temptation in my life. Neither has He made it impossible for me to sin, nor made me into a person with no weakness. But, as I learn to trust Him, and relax in the knowledge of His goodness, sin has lost its desirability to me. Guilt, when I fail in the moment to act according to what He tells me, is no longer an issue either. I believe that His blood has covered all my sin, past present and future. He does not sanction or gloss over any of my sin, but it does not come between us. He has already forgiven and atoned for all of it.

When He reveals sin, that I had not recognized before, I confess it, agreeing with Him that this action was indeed sin against Him. Then I drop it, and tell Him, reminding myself at the same time, that my fighting cannot conquer this sin, and I will be a slave to it unless He keeps me.

This does not nullify Romans 8:13. "For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Romans 8:13) We must have total reliance on God in us. The Spirit does not help us to put off the deeds of the body, that implies that it is a team effort - that the Spirit, as part of the team, needs our help, as the other part of the team. The Spirit does it for us, because we are totally helpless.

Galatians 5:16, is not nullified either. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." It does not say fight against the lust of the flesh, or fight to walk in the Spirit, nor is there any mention of prolonged struggle. It says, walk in the Spirit. If Jesus abides in you, then I'm not sure how you could walk in anything but the Spirit.

This is an imperfect description of something I imperfectly understand. But, mine and Gracie's point is that our struggling to Do Hard Things, our struggling against our flesh, will never accomplish the righteousness of God. If it could, then there was no need for Jesus to die.

I am going to include some of the people that Gracie and I have heard this teaching from. These people have been studying and living what they teach a lot longer than I have, however, I do not necessarily agree with everything they might say.

Paul Anderson-Walsh at I particularly recommend The Pathway-an introduction into Freedom in Christ series.

Bill Gillham, particularly his book: Lifetime Guarantee

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I decided I should share a journal entry from a few days ago. This is not like me. I don't share my journal entries. Not because they are too private by any stretch, but because they are too boring. :) I'm not sure why this one is any different, but here goes!

July 27, 2007
I have been discontent. There is always a little bit of discontentedness in the back of my mind but some days it is much stronger. Today it was stronger. Discontentedness is generally a bad thing, but I'm not sure that this is. I'm trying to put my finger on what exactly I am discontent with.

I long for something bigger, something that will require my all. A greater every day purpose perhaps? But that is not quite it.

Sometimes it comes to my mind as the lover I hope to have someday, sometimes as children, sometimes as other countries, sometimes as a danger worth facing, sometimes as anything outside of this house and family, sometimes for peace within this house and family, sometimes I think it might be music that I seem to remember having felt, but can't remember actually having heard.

But any one of these things is not quite it, either. In my most honest moments I think my longing is too great even to be satisfied by the culmination of all these things. Am I just hard to please? Am I going to be a hopelessly discontent person for the rest of my life?

I know that all of these things at once can only happen in One Place and with One Person. So, although I hope that You will be granting some of these longings, or rather some of my longing, I realize that my real desire is for You, and the eternal perfection of a life with You.

This knowledge does not help me become content as I mostly feel heaven is a long time off. But I don't know that, do I? I can live as though heaven happens tomorrow. I only need enough contentment for today.

The oddest thing about the discontentedness that I mention in this journal entry is not that I am discontent, (which as I said has been going on more or less since I was born,) but rather that I am quite content at the same time. I used to be discontent in a very different sort of way.

In times past my discontentedness would fester for about a month or two and then I would come to Mom to spill it all out in anger and tears. At that time I was very sure what I was discontent with: myself, my Christianity, and God. I knew that He was my only answer . . . but He didn't seem to be answering anything.

Over the past months, maybe eighteen now, He has been expanding my little mind. He has been telling me that I wasn't content with my Christianity because I had created my own god.

The god I created was not a blood sucking idol. He was a very decent, encouraging, wise sort of chap who chanted "keep it up, try harder, you're almost there!" and

"You really should have read your Bible today. It is going to be awful since you didn't. But don't worry, I know you'll do better tomorrow. Tomorrow you will try harder." and

"Of course I accept you just as you are. I'm just asking you to be a little kinder to your family; that is not too much is it?" and

"I love you unconditionally. Why else would I come and die an agonizing death for an insignificant person like you?" and

"Dear, dear, IF you love me you will keep my commandments. You keep saying you love me, but look at all those commandments you keep breaking. This is all you can give me? Of course not, you just don't love me enough."

Did I say decent, encouraging? No, my god was demanding and manipulative, always keeping me on the downhill slope. Telling me to try harder, telling me I wasn't good enough, telling me he deserved more.

I did try. I tried to love him. I tried to obey him. I tried to be good enough. I tried to believe hard enough. I tried to be more humble. I tried to confess my sins. I tried fasting. I tried praying.

The outbursts came every now and then when I was honest with myself that it wasn't working. But I knew it should work because God is not a liar, so I tried harder. The last outburst I was more honest than ever before. My 'god' WAS lying to me. He knew that I didn't have any more to give, he promised peace and joy. I didn't have either.

After that, things gradually changed. Very slowly, very gently, one step at a time, I began to take God at His actual word and stopped trying to figure everything out and make sense of Him. I told Him I wasn't trying any more, I didn't understand anymore. I told Jesus that I would believe, in spite of my experience, that He was indeed good. But to believe anything else . . . I just didn't know. If He wanted me to have any greater understanding of Himself then He would have to build it Himself.

So He built. He continues to build (or is it heal?) me. For the first time in my life the 'good news' is actually good enough to try to explain even when there is so much that I don't understand yet and so much that sounds foolish.

All those things that I think might be the answer to my longing? they are just ways that I haven't had the opportunity to experience God yet. So am I content or not? Well . . . I am deeply happy (my circumstances are not always happy, but I am.) And yet, I want more.

My aim is to know Jesus,
to experience the power of His resurrection,
to share in His sufferings,
and to be like Him in His death . . .
(Philippians 3:10)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Shield Maiden

A shield maiden is essentially a woman who fights, but what does this mean to me?

I originally heard the title in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. His female character Éowyn is called a shield maiden. When you first meet Éowyn she is a grown woman who was brought up among and by male relatives. She is the niece of the king, but she is capable of fighting and wants to go to war. When her uncle and brother ride to war she is commanded to stay and rule the people in the event that neither of them return. However, she disguises herself as a man and fights in the army, leaving her country without a leader. During the course of the story she fights a monster, defeating him, but receiving a mortal wound. She is then brought back from the brink of death and has a long stay in the ‘house of healing’ where she meets and begins to love her future husband, a gentle man who is both braver and more dutiful than she.

During her story Éowyn learns that a brave heart is not any less brave because it has no opportunity for glorious deeds. She also learns that a noble heart must learn quietness and humility, understanding that it might never be recognized for what it is or ever get the chance to be proved, to itself or to others.

Perhaps I am the only one that interprets her story in this way. These are things that I have had to learn and now rejoice in.

When I was little, and everyone still thought that I was quiet, I would dream of fighting in wars or meeting impossible circumstances with bold fearlessness and quick thinking. My imaginations usually had to do with war and smooth talking; I also generally thought of myself as a man. I would imagine that I was so confident in myself and my abilities that I did not care what other people thought. If they thought little of me now, I would amaze them twice as much later. I gloried in the 'other people' underestimating me. I didn't have to prove myself to anyone. But I did provide a point in the story where the natural course of events proved my superiority.

As I got older I was drawn to missions; not for the noble reason of saving lost souls from hell, but because missionaries were put in impossible situations. I was drawn to 'adventure.' By their faith in God they triumphed, sometimes through amazing miracles. They were generally unrecognized for how amazing they were, and worked behind the scenes.

I am trying to describe to you some of the very innermost workings of my mind and heart. Most of this is what I thought when I was younger, but these deep desires greatly carry over to who I am today. Today, I hope that my desires are more mature, but the basic things that thrilled me then continue to thrill me now.

As I grow, God is showing me how the real story differs from the one I had made for myself. In the real story of my life I am not allowed to insert that moment when I am recognized as the hero. In the real story when people think I am incapable, they are usually right. In the real story I am more often the prideful braggart than the humble hero.

How can I still call myself a shield maiden? Because as God has been crushing my pride and fantasy, He has also been building me a new, perfect, satisfing story.

In His story for me He is the hero. As I totally embrace this truth He begins to let me in on my role in the story, my role as a shield maiden. I am first one who is filled with the entirety of God. This is where my role derives its worth, and this is as close as I get to being the hero.

The real Hero lives in me and everything I do is an extension of Him living in me. I am called by Him as one who has this great gift of Himself bestowed upon me, to do great things. I assure you, my Hero does not live life without purpose. However He does live it in seemingly mundane ways.

He has not called me to subdue countries, or amaze people, or feed my pride in any way. It does not seem that He calls me to be anything other than normal. I’m just a sister, just a daughter. I have no degree, no great schooling, no unusual talent. I have nothing to show myself or the world that can be recognized as the smallest bit of greatness. I have no hope for future greatness by these standards either; my hope is to love my husband, be a mother, and have a home for unwanted children. None of these set me apart or label me as ‘great.’

Underneath these surface images I am called to something great, something noble, and something that no one can prove or approve but God himself. I am called to be a warrior.

My mission is to know my Captain and love Him. If I fail in this, everything else is futile and others who depend on me will very likely be lost. The extension of my mission is to guide those who are around me to the One I am learning to love.

No one will recognize my actions as unusual. All that will be seen is me living 'normal' life: playing a game with my brothers, spending time talking to a friend, and eventually raising and loving my own children.
Nothing extraordinary.

I am learning not to live by these surface images, which tell me my life is boring and useless, but to live trusting what God tells me. He says all sorts of unusual things about me and the world.
  • I wanted to be on active duty in a noble war: He says I am always living in the war zone of the only war that will matter for eternity.
  • I wanted to go incognito as a top-secret spy: He says that I am an alien in this land.
  • I wanted to be so secure in myself that I did not have anything to prove: He says that I am so secure in Him that only He can prove anything anyway.
  • I wanted to be invincible: He says that when I died with Him and He rose again, I became invincible.
  • I wanted to be a threat to the enemy: He warns me daily that the enemy recognizes the threat that He is in me.

He rejoices with me that the harder the enemy hits the more joy I have, because there is less of me and more of my God.

To me a shield maiden is a feminine, very dangerous, and usually incognito warrior of Christ.

I believe what He says; I am a shield maiden.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Love Story by Laurie Hills

I met a man who looked at me. No, he looked into me. He knew, and I knew that I had looked all my life for my real self, for fulfillment, and I was lost because I was out of looking places. His eyes were full of the kind of thing that melted my long since frozen soul. I even tentatively ventured to believe that this was actually the kind of thing people looked for when they said they were looking for love. When he finally spoke, I was eager for his words. He said, ‘I know who you were meant to be. Only give your permission and I will make it so.’ His eyes continued to hold mine like a vice. He had such drawing power and his proposal such promise, that every part of me wanted to shout, ‘Yes!’ Every part, that is, except the part of me that said, ‘Don’t kid yourself. It might work for someone else, this magic trick he has up his sleeve. But you know you well enough to know that you’re a jinx!

What was he doing to me with his eyes? He must know my thoughts, for as his gaze penetrated ever deeper into my relaxing soul; I felt the self-hatred trickling away. And I knew he didn’t consider me a jinx. I said with a freedom surprising to me, ‘Yes, yes, as soon as possible, but how can we manage this and how long will it take?’ Nagged by memories of old and not-so-old failures, I was totally unprepared for his answer. ‘It is done. The moment your heart assented, before you spoke a word, it was done. The emptiness of self has been replaced by my Life. I am the Source of Life. This is what you were always meant to be, a container for my Life.’

I was, of course, glad to know this, but I had expected a feeling of elation, or strength, or fulfillment. That’s what I had expected – a feeling of fulfillment. Oh, there would be no escaping this Life, for he was reading my thoughts again. ‘You are disappointed? You want a feeling as a sign that I’m here? My love, believe what I tell you. I have died and carried your empty self with me to that death so I could live my Life in you.’ I believed and thought about what my Beloved had said was truth. When I found that I couldn’t believe, I cried, ‘I do believe, but help thou mine unbelief!’ and that loved Life within gave peace.

Then one day the words He had told me to believe exploded into meaning. Things often happen that way these days, unplanned things. And I shouted, ‘He did save me from myself and He did put his own Life in its place.’ And I felt all the good emotions that I ever dreamed of feeling, and they were so strong that they demanded to be shared with friends who had tried to help me find who I was.

As the intimacy of this Good that had come began to grasp my consciousness, I said to my Beloved, ‘I must try to make myself look and act better because you are living in me. I will try to find ways.’ He was silent, and I was busy striving to improve the image I projected; for, after all, I was a Life carrier. My bearing must demonstrate my importance. I looked, I inquired, I tried, and I tired. I experimented and I failed and wondered why he was so silent. He should be helping me. After all, this was to show him how much I appreciated what He had done for me.

I remember those as joyless days. I was so busy outside trying to create ways to make him proud that He had chosen to live in me and let others see my high estate that I had had no time for enjoying him, as I had in the beginning. Life was becoming almost as it was before. One day I came rushing home with great and high expectations. I went flying to him, waving a paper with ten rules beautifully lettered. These, I had been told by a religious-looking man, if kept, would please any good man. He saw them and said quietly, ‘Will you keep them?’ ‘Yes! Said I, exhilarated at the thought of a good solid task to tackle. I memorized the rules first. They were simple. All that striving and here was the answer. Why hadn’t I run into that man before, and what did my Beloved mean, ‘Would I keep them?’ – just ten simple rules!! I had to skip the first one since it wasn’t as solid as I had thought. I simply didn’t know whether I had any other gods before him. Sometimes I couldn’t be sure I wasn’t my own god. I had similar problems with the others. Why was life becoming so complicated and unfulfilled again?

I went to him. ‘I’m a failure. I promised I’d keep those ten rules; I can’t keep one.’

His answer, ‘No one ever has, except me. My Life being lived in you fulfills them all.’

Hurt and pouting, I said, ‘Is there nothing I can do to please you?

‘Are you through trying, beloved? He asked.

I sank down before him with a weary nod of assent. ‘Then I’m pleased,’ he said. As if he had kept me off balance long enough, he hastened to answer my quizzical look with, ‘When my love for you prompted me to die for you, I took everything of you with me into death. When we resumed life again, the burden was gone. I have made you pleasing to me. You had to do nothing but want me – for me to live in you. Now I have waited for you to want me to live though you. Do you want me to?’

A trapped feeling began to grip me – almost a fear. Fear! Fear! In the face of such great love? What could I fear? Losing control? Maybe. Violation of my personhood? That’s a laugh. I was no person before he came, and I knew He was no violator. Was my fear that this couldn’t be for real? I blurted out, ‘You mean to tell me there is no price-tag attached to anything you do for me? Life’s not like that!!’

‘Death,’ came his cryptic answer.

My reeling thoughts scurried after the meaning. There it was! His was a life I couldn’t understand, because the life I had thought was life, was death. Staggering!! Out of this world!! Could I stand it, this Life? No more striving to be something, because another was already everything in me, through me? My competitive soul already suffered at this prospect.

I thought he must soon become impatient. He had asked that question so long ago and I had not answered. I looked and he seemed to have eternity to wait. But I didn’t ‘One more question. If I choose, could I now or ever escape your fearful love?’

‘You are sealed,’ he said with finality.

‘But if I can’t do anything!’

‘Ah, my love, you are my Life in the world. You may come begging for less action; and do? Have you forgotten the time you first knew I loved you? I did tell you one thing, but you found you needed me even to do that.’

Ruefully I thought, ‘How could I forget that struggle? It was a hard thing to believe when you wanted a feeling.’ Believe – yeah! It figures! A love that has done everything for me so he can be everything through me leaves nothing but to believe this preposterous presumptuous truth.

And then as if to mockingly tease a little, he said, ‘and the most presumptuous thing of all you may not believe for a little while. I’m preparing you to rule the universe with me through all eternity. Are you ready? Can you take the preparation?’ And then I remembered the night I asked Him to finish the sentence; but He had finished the sentence, hadn’t He?!! He is the only Person there is!

‘Ready? Oh, my God, you have made me ready. Take the preparation? You will take it in me. Who or what is there beside Thee?

(I first read this in a little free pamphlet. Since it was not copyrighted, I decided to share it here. I also found it on the web at I hope God uses it to speak to you like He did to me.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Humility, Hard Work, and Hanging On

Humility . . .
I thought that God led me to Advanced Excel to learn speaking, writing, and discipleship. In the five weeks that I was in Dallas, Texas, I found that humility was what God really had planned for me. But, of course, I learned humility in Dallas, so when I got home I could actually learn writing and discipleship. The truth is, I learned something about humility in Dallas, but God brought me home to turn up the heat.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5) YE CAN DO NOTHING.

"Nothing?" I think to myself, "I don't believe it. I do all sorts of things without Him. I will only ask for His help when I really need it; I do okay by myself most of the time."

Why do I think this way? Pride - "An unreasonable conceit of one's own superiority . . . which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others." (Webster's 1828 Dictionary) Did Mr. Webster know me? When I look at this definition, I originally think that it does not apply to me. I do not put on lofty airs in my relationships with people, distance or reserve myself from them, or stand stand in contempt of them . . . not often anyway.

Then I look at my relationship with God. Every day, possibly every hour, I commit these sins against God. I put on lofty airs toward Him, using Him as a neat little tool to get fulfillment. I distance and reserve myself from Him, sometimes He is most important, sometimes He is not. Does not my neglect of Him show my contempt for Him?

He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to . . . walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8) Humility is: "Having a low opinion of one's self . . . before God." (Webster's 1828 Dictionary) Humility is not thinking that you are worth nothing; God says you were worth the death of His son. Humility is not low self-esteem, as the world sees it. A humble person does not feel sorry for himself. True humility is recognizing that apart from God I can do NOTHING, while I can do all things through Christ.

I always remember the part of the verse that says, "I can do all things" forgetting the qualifier, "through Christ." (Pilippians 4:13) I recently heard someone say, "God does not help those who help themselves; God helps those who humble themselves."

Hard Work . . .
I like to think of myself as an above average teenager, and an as-close-as-you-can-get-to-perfect Christian. (I am being really honest here.) I look around at other people, not usually specific people, just . . . you know . . . them. I come to the conclusion that I am a pretty mature person, and (I wish I were blushing) I cannot remember any real faults that I have.

I obey my parents. I do not put myself into compromising situations. I have pretty good relationships with my siblings. I reach out to other people. I plan on becoming a missionary . . . . I'll stop there before you grab your trash can and empty your upset stomach. I do know my major faults. I just hadn't had to deal with them lately. I wasn't in a situation that brought them to the light.

I procrastinate, and I am lazy. I can force myself to face anything that I fear, but I do not force myself to meet a deadline, or (the originality of the thought) get my work done ahead of time. These habits worked out okay for my first two AE assignments, but on the third, well, it didn't work out so well.

God brought it to a stop about as fast as my little brother stopped in front of me on his bike, right before I crashed into him. We will just say that only half my assignment was ready to be turned in on time, and half of that was only half way done. So much for my "very mature person" image.

Hanging On . . .
So what now? What have I learned? I'm afraid to tell you, lest you start looking for the fruit of it in my life. I am still in the very slow process of learning: that I cannot do anything, Any Thing, ANYTHING, without Jesus. He does not mind me asking for His help, but He really wants me to live in His help.

Jesus deserves everything I have got. I think of the movie Facing the Giants, when the coach tells the team, "At the end of this game, I want you to know that you left everything on the field." I want to come to the end of every day knowing that I left everything I had to give in that day. I want to be satisfied at the end of every hour that I had nothing left. I want to save no reserves for myself, but to spend it all on Jesus. I don't want to pace myself, I want to burn out for Him.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Learning From Jesus

Of the thirty-three years that Jesus lived on earth, He spent only three in public ministry. In those three years He placed His priority on twelve people, talking, teaching, explaining, and living love in front of them. Through these relationships the world has been changed. In the Great Commission Jesus commands us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . .” How then do we obey this command? He made Himself the example of how to make disciples, we must know Him to rightly obey His command.

All these principles flow from the first one; one must abide in God himself before he can disciple anyone else. Jesus’ priority was first, to abide in God. He spent time alone in prayer and fasting, focusing on His relationship with God. The Bible says, “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” (Mark 1:35) He said of Himself that He depended wholly on God, stating, “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me . . .” (John 8:28) If Jesus, the perfect one of God, did nothing of Himself, how much more important for us to do nothing of ourselves?

Although Jesus had many more than twelve disciples, the twelve were set apart, not by anything they did, but because Jesus chose them. The gospel of Mark says, “And when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.” (Mark 4:34) Even though Jesus was God, and He often ministered to the masses, there were only twelve that He was intimate with. He calls us to minister to everyone we come in contact with, but invest in the few that are near us.

Jesus invested Himself by spending time that others would have considered a waste. He spent time with publicans and sinners, eating meals with them. (Mark 2:16-17) As a ruler’s child lay dying, He stopped on His way to heal her, to identify and speak to a woman who was healed by touching His clothing. When others told Bartimaeus to leave Jesus alone, Jesus took time to speak to him and heal him. Mothers brought their children to Him and the disciples rebuked them, but Jesus took time to love them, “And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.” (Mar 10:16) He spent his time on people. Can we spend our time in a better way?

Jesus loved each person individually. Not the gushy feel-good emotion of love, but real, practical, deny-yourself-for-others love. He loved the disciples by choosing them, a bunch of nobodies. When the rich young ruler asked Him how to receive eternal life, Mark says, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him . . .” (Mark 10:21). Then Jesus spoke to his need.

Jesus always spoke the truth. Although many rejected it, He offered freedom by it. He spoke the truth to the Pharisees by telling them what hindered them from God, revealing their hypocrisy. He spoke the truth to His disciples, not suggesting He was offering the easy way, He plainly told them, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34) When we do less than speak the truth we hold back freedom from those who might accept it.

Jesus patiently interacted with all kinds of people. He was patient with the father doubting His ability to heal his son. In Mark 8:17-21 Jesus reminds His disciples of the feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand and asks them if they do not understand. The truth is, they did not understand, but He did not give up on them. He kept patiently explaining. If Jesus was patient with people, how do we think in our pride, that we will be excused of our impatience? Is not Jesus patient with us?

Jesus taught creatively, drawing deep lessons out of life to explain to His disciples. He used word pictures, stories, and parables. If they did not understand, all they had to do was ask, and He would carefully explain the meaning. He used repetition too. Even when they could not understand in the moment, He assured that when the time came, they would remember what He taught them and they would understand.

Jesus also used discernment about what and how much to teach. He knew so much to give and explain, but they could understand little of what He taught them. He taught with patience and wisdom, just as God gently teaches us, not putting too much on us at once.

Jesus carefully showed us the way, but only those who look for it will find it. He does not command anything of us that He does not give the grace, and the direction to do it. We must first abide in God, just as He did, because He continues to disciple us as we obey and disciple others.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pondering God's glory

'For the recognition of the King'

It is a phrase that God is bringing me around to understanding. As far as I know, I am the person who came up with it, but God is the one who is bringing me back again and again to what it means as well as all the areas it touches.

As I begin to write this, I am overwhelmed and begin to despair. How can I possibly explain in writing everything God is impressing on my heart? Where do I start? Creation? my birth? the past year? the last month? or yesterday when I came up with the phrase? Thank God, His word is complete, and I don't have to worry about adding to the Bible. But, I hope He can be recognized in me, even in my writing.

It all started with the idea that everything is for the glory of God. But, to me, glory has always been a somewhat hazy word. Just what is the glory of God? I have heard that it is similar to honor. I could understand that a little better, but I still couldn't grasp it for sure.

During the last supper, in the Gospel of John 13:31-32, Jesus says, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately." In my mind this was all rather confusing, until I heard that the word 'glorify' could be interpreted as 'recognized'. Everything started to fall into place for me. So, Jesus will be recognized for who He is, God will be recognized in Jesus, and Jesus will be recognized in God. His human "disguise" was finally going to be taken off and He would be recognized as God in the flesh.

I desire to glorify God. Today, He chooses that He will reside in and work through imperfect people. People like me. I desire for people to recognize God for who He is. He is in disguise again. A much harder disguise than last time. If a perfect Man claiming to be God threw them off, how much more this?

Is He recognizable in me? I imagine that being God made Jesus act pretty different than other people. Can people see that I act differently because God lives in me? Can people see anything in my life or in my person that is different or desirable to them?

Do I recognize Jesus as my King? He will not force my allegiance. While claiming to others that He has supreme right over me and my life, do I disobey and disregard His commands?

The lesson God has been teaching me through this is humility. I come out of this test as a die-hard religious hypocrite. Jesus sticks with me anyway. He wants me to keep His name, even though I have brought shame to it and no doubt will again.
If any good, noble, worthy, or desirable thing is in me, recognize that as my King. Perhaps others can have good things in themselves without having Jesus' Lordship in their lives, but in my life it is not so. I know when critical choices between right and wrong arise, only Jesus' love has constrained me to choose as I have.

Lord, be recognized for who You are.