December 31, 2009

surrender to Love

don't forget to listen to the song! (click on the title.)
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Isaiah 61
"...bring good news to the poor... bind up the brokenhearted... proclaim liberty to the captives, the opening of the prison to those who are bound... to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor... to comfort all who mourn... to grant those who mourn [a beautiful headdress instead of ashes], the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor, they shall rejoice in their lot... they shall have everlasting joy."

IT IS FOR FREEDOM THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SET FREE.
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john 20:31 "these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name"

"i came that they may have life, and have it to the full!"

we live. we're good at breathing. we like to talk. we reserve the right to ignore. we laugh and we cry. we dive in if we want to, and avoid when we don't. we give, but often take more. we think we've got this 'living' thing down.

we start new. we pull our socks up. we make goals, and try once again.

the beautiful thing about my God is the unprecedented grace that's been handed out and given freely for 2000 years. really the truth about the gift of grace is that you just accept it. it cost a lot, yes, the cost was steep and its been taken care of, and now its on you to accept it. as you probably know, that's harder than it sounds. we can't believe that God arranged for such a sweet gift of redemption.

"He is wise in heart and mighty in strength -- who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?..." Job 9:4

the reason why i like this song is really that it's like God saying to me, "I already have this figured out. You're not going to find better. You won't get everything figured out to the point where you won't need my grace. Let me protect you and lead you. I've equipped you and I won't let you fall!"

1 Kings 18: 21-22 "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him..."

This is not about the shame game. We fall, we fail, we learn, and we grow. God through Jesus is about redemption, and thanks to His goodness, and the freedom we receive in His love and perfect gift of Jesus, we live the classic Cinderella story.

"You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them" Nehemiah 9:17b

His whispers knock us off our feet and remind us that we are held by the hands that formed the world.

I pray for peace, joy, strength, blessing and reliance on a very big God in the new year.

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by your side - tenth avenue north

why are you striving these days?
why are you trying to earn grace?
why are you crying?
let me lift up your face
just don't turn away

why are you looking for love?
why are you still searching
as if I'm not enough
to where will you go, child?
tell me, where will you run?
to where will you run?

I'll be by your side
wherever you call
in the dead of night
whenever you fall
please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

look at these hands and my side
they swallowed the grave on that night
when i drank the world's sin
so i could carry you in
and give you life
I want to give you life

cause I, I love you
I want you to know
that I, I love you
I'll never let you go

November 26, 2009

times and seasons

Isaiah 43:1-3
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you... he who formed you...
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you"

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i think it's understood that the prerequisite for healing is being wounded or unwell. let's go from there.

since everyone has wounds, we're in this together. it can be that part of you that goes (and will continue to go) unmentioned. there are so many different kinds of venues for hurt. the seas of doubt, untold secrets, all kinds of painful memories, loss or fear or insecurities that can rage inside. other hurt is in the form of calloused, numb and cracked parts that exist like embers of an old fire in a slow burn from a once furious blaze. it's exhausting. it's lonely.

HARK. "You, my brothers, were called to be free!" Galatians 5:13

the beautiful part of the family of God is what happens in it when a member suffers. the norm of suffering, of course, is to attend to the hurting individual, 'make the bleeding stop', and comfort them in their pain. there's a next step that i've seen and am blessed by within the "family" context: Love joins into another's suffering. Furthermore, I believe God gives us examples and heroes of our faith to guide us through our suffering. God uses others to minister to us when we suffer.

Jeremiah 3:15 'I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding'

It's hard to believe that the pain we feel is beneficial. I think most of the time I don't trust that "God has a plan for my life". Our society tells us that 'what goes around comes around' and that we offended someone, and 'making amends' will solve the trouble of suffering. There is no doubt that making amends will aid in the process of healing, however, true heart healing comes from .

In May of this year, I sat on a bed in a small one-room building in the beautiful land of Jamaica, reunited with my dear friend Agnes after 5 years. After singing a few songs with her from her small, well-used black hymn book, she asked that I read Ezekiel 37 to her. Though I don't know that I had never read this passage on "The Valley of Dry Bones" before, after reading it aloud for her, I was blown away by the message that Agnes held so dear in the confines of the infirmary where she lived.

Ezekiel 37
God asks:
"Son of Man, can these bones live?" (v.3)
Textbook answer:
"Oh Lord God, you know" (v.4)
God's promise:
"I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live... you shall know I am the Lord...." (v.5)
Our disbelief:
"Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost; we are clean cut off" (v.11)
God's repeats:
"I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live... then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it" (v.14)

Agnes: "Amen... Praise God... yes... shall live!! Amen..."

My Jamaican sister, sitting on the same bed for the last 5 years and probably many more previously, finds hope in knowing that her dry bones, her present suffering, is not the end for her. Her God has promised restoration and claiming this as her very own, Agnes rejoices in her present suffering.

Isaiah 5:8 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts"

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Healer - by: Kari Jobe

you hold my every moment
you calm my raging seas
you walk with me through fire
and heal all my disease

i trust in You

i believe you're my healer
i believe you are all i need
i believe you're my portion
i believe you're more than enough for me
Jesus, you're all i need

nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

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Isaiah 51:11
"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorry and sighing shall flee away"

darkness defeated

Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

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to be forsaken in weakness has got to be the darkest place. like being kicked when you're already down. "not only do i identify as weak, someone knows that about me, and on the basis of my weakness, i'm rejected and alone".

we live in a quick-paced, cut-throat society that doesn't understand the meaning of grace or mercy. if you're falling behind, you double-time it back on track. if you're Superman or the female equivalent, you pull all that off before anybody notices. otherwise, our power-hungry society has judged, shamed and forgotten about you.

it's good to know that there's a Champion of our cause. a forgiving and wonderful Father that welcomes us into His arms every time we turn to Him. we are granted shelter and awarded grace and mercy through faith in Jesus. it's a never-ending, fierce love that Jesus covers us with.

Hosea 2:19-20a
"I will make you lie down in safety, I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in justice, and in steadfast love and in mercy... in faithfulness".

Romans 5:4+5
"..we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance... endurance produces character... character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

so what of those living in fear, darkness and shame? our brothers and sisters, our friends, parents, acquaintances, and the man we walk past on the street everyday. i think as ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5), its on us to be the ones reaching out and extending love to those trapped in the darkness of failure, or addictions to work, power, money, substance, and all kinds of other crafty traps. everyone's got dark corners. everyone. however, identifying the darkness isn't what we're called to. we're called to bring the light to dark places. to shine and love and be gracious to one another.

2 Corinthians 2:15
"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."

Ecclesiastes 4:10
"If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But, pity the man who falls and has no one to help him."

The truth is that we are saved from condemnation and are never in the position to administer justice, wrath or shame on others. We are freed slaves of sin. Let us, in our freedom, knowing that Jesus has loved us and "rises to have mercy on us", be agents of that Light we've seen.

Chronicles 7:14 (God talking)
"if my people, who are called by my Name... shall humble themselves... pray, seek, crave and 'require of necessity' my face... and turn from their wicked ways, then, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and... heal their land."

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You Are for Me - Kari Jobe

so faithful, so constant
so loving and so true
so powerful in all you do

you fill me, you see me
you know my every move
you love for me to sing to you

I know that you are for me
I know that you are for me
I know that you will never forsake me in my weakness
I know that you have come down
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me of who you are

so patient, so gracious
so merciful and true
so wonderful in all you do

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Ephesians 3:16-18
"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."

November 11, 2009

face down

PJ: what's the theme?
Me: it's about finding your place flat on your face...

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I Chronicles 16:11, 27-36
King David's (& Rachel's) Song of Thanks
"Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength... the glory due his name;
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth;
yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations,
"The Lord reigns!"
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult and everything in it!
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord,
for he come to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"

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Joshua 5:14-15
Commander: "...I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come."
Joshua: (falls on his face 'to the earth') "What does my lord say to his servant?"
Commander: "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy"

I think there's a beautiful truth that is acted out when people hit the dirt in God's presence. Sometimes all of a sudden we are struck by the contrast of God's greatness and our insignificance, and our efforts are in vain as we can't get low enough. Face down. Silent. Pleading. Surrendered.

There's a thick blank page at the back of my Bible (after the maps) where I write one-liners from songs, Bible verses, authors or speakers that have stood out to me, and there I have a list of people who found themselves face down in God's presence. Good examples of sinners saved by grace like Abraham (Genesis 17:3), Moses (Numbers 20:6), David (1 Chronicles 21:16), Ezekiel (1:28), Daniel (10:15), Peter, James & John (Matthew 17:6), the whole nation of Israel (Leviticus 9:24) and Heaven (Revelations 4:9-11). This list, if nothing else, reminds me that humbling myself before God is a practice of those who have gone before me.
I remember being 17 year old and almost tripping over my dad in a low-traffic area of the sanctuary of the church we had attended for 7 and a 1/2 years, who had found his rightful posture between a couple pews, face down before his King. I don't think I had ever seen someone "prostrated before the Lord" before. I remember feeling like I wanted him to get up. I wanted him to look strong, not hurt, not broken, and as "put together" as possible, thank you. But, instead, seeing my dad seeking God this way, completely undone and humbled, taught me a beautiful lesson of God's presence. Everything bows before Him, our King; people, broken, leaders, pride, prestige, power... all of it in all of us.

"Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!" Psalm 96:9

"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe..." Hebrews 12:28

Jesus' presence among sinners on earth must have been just so confusing to those following him around. It's hard to understand for me too. So, He had to come if we were to have a way to know God, but WHY would he come? How can he love me so much when I'm so broken? ugly? dirty? Does he know that I'm going to mess this up down the road? I'll forget that this gift is so precious, and I'll forget to love Him the way I ought to. I'll come before Him with clanging cymbals and feel pretty confident that I'm loving the way I 'ought to', but I'll be hurting Him.

Praise God for restoration, and one who intercedes for our cryptic messages of confession, adoration and thanksgiving.

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day... a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11

"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean.." Hebrews 10:22

"... the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isaiah 51:11

Jesus asks that we come to him just as we are, with faith, believing that we can be made well in His atonement for us, sacrifice and merciful love.

There is grace abounding in His presence.

"daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace" - Jesus (Luke 8:48)

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Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
- David (1 Chronicles 29:11-13)

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Here in Your Presence (Desperation Band, New Life Worship)

Found in your hands, fullness of joy
Every fear suddenly wiped away
Here in Your presence
All of my gains now fade away
Every crown no longer on display
Here in Your presence

Heaven is trembling in awe of your wonder
The kings and their kingdoms are standing amazed

Here in Your presence,
We are undone
Here in Your presence
Heaven and earth become one
Here in Your presence
All things are new
Here in Your presence
Everything bows before you

Wonderful, Beautiful,
Glorious, Matchless in every way

September 29, 2009

jubilee

It's been a while. I spent the summer at camp, moved my life to a different city and now here I am: back to typing in bare feet.

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acts 17:24-28
"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made ... every nation of mankind ... that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find Him. He is actually not far from each one of us, for 'in Him we live and move and have our being".

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The first time I heard this song was in a service at the preparatory staff week before campers arrive at camp. I felt as though someone had been given a key to my heart, read it cover to cover like a book, and typed it out for everyone to read on PowerPoint.

I was exhausted. Utterly spent and feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility that was mine and the task ahead of me for the summer. As I'm sure you can imagine, or perhaps you've experienced, arriving at camp with an empty tank is not ideal. It's a beautiful mix of expectancy and hopefulness. Mostly because you don't have a choice but to trust in God's provision. You won't be able to pull off what's ahead, and you know God can, so you're left to surrender every effort to His care and good plan.

Here's where the desert idea kicks in. So, here I am, parched, and trying to sing. Trying to give from a place of brokenness and weakness. Trying. Believing. Remaining. Receiving. Learning.

REMAIN. The central theme of the summer. From the passage in John 15, we were directed in our discussions and reflection that really it is God who works, and in His beautiful plan we are chosen to participate in that work. For me, remaining meant keeping "me" out of it. Being a channel, clear of hindrance or blockage, to bring praise and to serve throughout the circumstances ("in every season") where I believe, though I forget, that God is always faithful. The promise and proof of God's faithfulness to me, as His child, is real. And so, I always have a reason to worship and sing. I will bring praise. I will rejoice and declare that God is my victory, and He is here.


DESERT: "when all that's within me feels dry"

psalm 119 "my comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life"
john 15:16 "you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit..."

the LIES: You will always feel alone. You were made for brokenness and suffering.
the TRUTH: You were chosen to participate in greatness. You will be saved from your suffering. Your King knows your suffering.


IN MY HUNGER & NEED: "my God is the God who provides"

isaiah 41:10 "so do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand"

the LIES: You will not be comforted. You are always going to be striving for what you need. You will never be whole.
the TRUTH: You don't need to be afraid of what will happen tomorrow. You are safe. God knows your need.


FIRE: "in weakness or trial or pain"... "refine me Lord through the flame"

isaiah 40:31 "...those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength..."

the LIES: You will always be ________.
the TRUTH: You are a new creation. 'The old has gone, the new has come'.


BATTLE: "when triumph is still on its way"

acts 5:38 "... if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them"

john 16:33 "i have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace... but take heart; I have overcome the world"

the LIES: You will never see victory.
the TRUTH: The battle is won. Triumph is coming. It is here.


"No weapon formed against me shall remain"

acts 18:9 "do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you..."

acts 10:15 "what God has made clean, do not call common."

psalm 71:21 "you will increase my honor, you will comfort me once again"

the LIES: You won't be able to do it. You'll fail. Your efforts will be in vain. You'll be out there all alone.
the TRUTH: You are God's masterpiece, created to do good... You're not common! You're the Beloved. You'll never be alone.


HARVEST: "filled to be emptied again"

psalm 51 "Create in me a clean heart... restore to me the JOY of your salvation... and renew a right spirit within me."

romans 3:23-24 "for all have sinned and fall sort of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."

the LIES: You're stained. You're used up. You can't be made whole. And even if you were, God can't use you.
the TRUTH: Grace has been poured out on you to restore you and give you joy. This joy will overflow to others to the glory of God.

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DESERT SONG - Hillsong

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life, in every season
You are still God, I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
when favour and providence flow
i know i'm filled to emptied again
the seed i've received I will sow

April 23, 2009

brace yourself

k, for this one - make sure you listen to the actual song. click on the title.


i often only think in terms of my specific circumstance. you might say i suffer from a serious case of tunnel vision. i am bound, as we all are, for this time to an imperfect context. my spirit's innocence to unabashedly encounter God's love is clouded and tainted by all my 21 years of living as a broken, near-sighted individual. i often don't consider that the love offered in Jesus isn't overwhelmed by the same rules or boundaries or context in which i exist. i can't wrap my head around it, really. i'm in awe, and i'm thankful that Jesus' love, which is freely given, and frees. it's an empowering love.

Jesus lived the message of his love as he broke some "rules" society had in place. Jesus went out of his way to show that he came to love us. there are many examples...

Jesus welcomed children, and told the disciples not to barricade them from coming into his presence. I imagine they just wanted to run right up and sit on his knee, be as close as they could possibly get to 'the action' as he told stories about seeds and weeds. I imagine if my desire was to be as close to Him as those kids wanted to be, I would know better the safety and rest of his welcoming arms.

Matthew 19:14 "Leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or restrain or hinder them, for of such [as these] is the kingdom of heaven composed."

Jesus also made it abundantly clear while on earth that he had come to love, heal and save those who had no hope, those who needed healing, justice and mercy. Simon Peter, Jesus' little rock, who denied knowing Jesus three times needed Jesus' abounding grace (Matt. 26:75). The woman who loved much was forgiven much (Mark 14). Zaccheus, the tax collector, needed to repent and repay to know new life (Luke 19). Thomas, though he doubted, believed was saved from his unbelief (John 20). The blind would see, and the lame walked (John 9:25; Mark 2:9). Those who had been cast out with leprosy joined society anew (Matt. 8:2-3). Another woman reached out to Jesus and in her faith, was healed of her bleeding (Luke 8:48). We need love, and it has been supplied in great abundance through Jesus death and life so that God can love us.

His love is powerful enough to 'eclipse our afflictions' with His its glory. He is complete love. He has shown all-encompassing, over-flowing, gracious, merciful, freeing love. He doesn't forget, doesn't need to ask for forgiveness, doesn't fail, and won't quit. There's hope and matchless beauty in the restorative way He loves us. Marvel in it. Enjoy it.

The powerful reminder that we're "drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes" reminds me that it's with grace and love that we are to introduce others to Jesus' love. We, all of us (not ONE excluded!), are not going to be strong enough for ocean of grace He pours over us... if we face it, we're going to sink in it's overwhelming power! (Something not too awful to be 'caught up' in!)

Like me, you probably don't need to be told to 'brace yourself'. I think many of us live in a sufficiently "braced" state. As you take it in, let the message of this Love be the agent of grace that loosens those binds and calls you from out of whatever has kept you alone, hiding.

You're accepted. You're welcomed in. You're loved. You're beautiful. You're free.

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Deutoronomy 4:24 "For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God."

1 Corinthians 13:10 "... but when Perfection comes, the imperfect disappears..."

1 John 4:10 "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

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How He Loves Us - Kim Walker

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight
of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by Glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great your affections are for me

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so...

Yeah, He loves us, oh,
How He loves us, oh
How He loves us, oh,
How He loves

We are His portion
And He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way

He loves us, oh,
How He loves us, oh
How He loves us, oh,
How He loves

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* my favourite line is: 'So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss'. God has gone to far more ridiculous, real, and tangible measures to make His love known to us!!

April 13, 2009

love's perfect gift

"This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down His life for us." 1 John 3:16

Easter's beautiful. One weekend is such a journey: from the great sacrifice and message of Jesus' blood to 'He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!' and celebration on Sunday/Monday! I have been reminded this weekend of the fact that God's offer of rescue was not a secret plan that would provide a way for me to reciprocate the same love God has shown me. His plan was for a 'forever' kind of relationship. He has always been interested in reaching out to me.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4: I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.

Love came down and bridged the gap for those who believe, receive and accept the gift of the cross. First, God created me for relationship with Him, then, Jesus came to live an example in a life of perfection and death in my place so my sins could be wiped out. Over and over, I forget what the cost was for Love to come down and reach me.

I can't keep up with that kind of love. He's perfect, and so is how he loves me. I can never wander out too far. I can never be outside the realm of His love. Today I am reminded that I am protected, pursued and profoundly loved.

1. 'all for love a Father gave'
John 3:16 "God loved the world so very, very much that he gave his only Son. Because he did that, everyone who believes in him will not lose his life, but will live for ever."

2. 'only Love can make a way'
Hebrews 9:26 "Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself."
Matthew 26:28 "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

3. 'you forgive if only i ask'
Hebrews 10:15-23 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
"This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds."
Then he adds:
"Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."
And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Psalm 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

4. 'all for love a Saviour prayed: "Abba Father, have your way"'
Mark 14: 35-46 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

5. 'the enemy has been defeated, death couldn't hold [God] down'
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.


ALL FOR LOVE/SHOUT UNTO GOD (by: Mia Fields)
All for love a Father gave
For only love can make a way
All for love the heavens cried
For Love was crucified

Oh, how many times have i broken Your heart
Still you forgive if only I ask
And how many times have you heard me pray
Draw near to me

Everything i need is You
My beginning, my forever
Everything I need is You

Let me sing all for love
I will join the angels' song
Ever holy is the Lord
King of glory, King of all

Oh, how many times have i broken Your heart
Still you forgive if only I ask
And how many times have you heard me pray
Draw near to me

Everything I need is You
My beginning, my forever
Everything I need is You

All for love a Saviour prayed
"Abba Father have your way,
Though they know not what they do
Let the cross draw men to You"

Everything I need is You
My beginning, my forever
Everything I need is You

The enemy has been defeated
Death couldn't hold You down
We're gonna lift our voice in victory
We're gonna make your praises loud

Shout unto God with a voice of triumph
Shout unto God with a voice of praise
Shout unto God with a voice of trumph
We lift Your name up
We lift Your name up

...............................................................

You are victorious, God. Thank you, Father, for making a way for us to know Your love. how wide, how deep, how high.... how immeasurable... how beautiful... how complete, how wonderful, how lovely, how mighty... is YOUR LOVE. i'm drawn in, i'm overcome. Amen.
...............................................................

Hebrews 12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

April 1, 2009

mighty to save (me)

Israel's Joy & Restoration (Zephaniah 3:14-20)
14Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15The LORD has taken away His judgments against you,
He has cleared away your enemies
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
You will fear disaster no more.
16In that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
"Do not be afraid, O Zion;
Do not let your hands fall limp.
17"The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
18"I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts--
They came from you, O Zion;
The reproach of exile is a burden on them.
19"Behold, I am going to deal at that time
With all your oppressors,
I will save the lame
And gather the outcast,
And I will turn their shame into praise and renown
In all the earth.
20"At that time I will bring you in,
Even at the time when I gather you together;
Indeed, I will give you renown and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,"
Says the LORD.

The good news is: God is in the business of moving mountains.

We're talkin' the knitty-gritty, dig-down-deep, get-dirty, up-close-and-personal, we're-in-this-together kind of healing. He's interested in restoring joy and providing for all my needs, great and small. I believe that He is able, and He has promised to be faithful as I navigate through the hills and valleys of my hopes, dreams, plans and realities. I guess my "mountains" could be summarized in the ongoing dialogue of obstacles and trials, fears and regrets that have shown up as piles of discouragement and lies that I believe about myself, my circumstance, my past failures and my future plans.

We often need to be saved from the lies we believe. If you were to be 'droppin some eaves' on a conversation between my friend Kate and I, you would be blessed (as I am) to be reminded that as a child of the King, we can proceed with confidence in whatever trials or circumstances, big or small we can "expect to be warmly received". Not only are we received with the compassion of a Saviour, but we are strengthened as we hold on to to Truth that our God, who is a VICTORIOUS warrior, has some elaborate plans for us and is constantly at work in dispelling the lies we cling to and giving life to the dreams, peace and passions He's given us. We can be confident: we have nothing to fear.

Ezekiel 37:26-28 "I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever."

Luke 12:32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

I'm glad this next song was written. In the middle of last summer, on a day of rest... at a worship time effectively named "Oasis", I was blessed once again by this song, believing the promise that my Friend, God, Saviour has made it so he can run the business of moving my mountains and providing a way for all of my needs to be met - for no other reason but because of His care, compassion and love for me.

I read this verse today, and was encouraged by the picture of God's outpouring of blessing, according to His plan:

Zechariah 10:1 "Ask rain from the LORD in the season of spring rain, from the LORD who makes the storm clouds, and he will given them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field."

Mighty to work. Mighty to provide. Mighty to love. Mighty to give freely. Mighty to show grace and compassion. Mighty to restore. Mighty to save.


MIGHTY TO SAVE (Hillsong United)

Everyone needs compassion,
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

Saviour, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

Saviour, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King Jesus


Luke 24:38-39
And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."

Acts 18:9
"Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you..."

March 21, 2009

cry

I think we all, at one time or another (or all the time), try too hard to be strong. We know we're weak, we know too well how we've failed, we're pretty sure we're not alone in our state of brokenness, but we would still like to at least appear strong. Okay, I do. I like to be in control. When I can't control my surroundings, I like to keep my own emotions under wraps. I do my best not to lose my cool and I don't often cry, not because I am "above" it, but because I'm afraid of not being perceived as strong.

We all cry sometimes. There are different reasons, durations, locations, and surroundings, but the tears do fall, our hearts ache, we need a safe place, we need grace.

2 Samuel 22:7 "In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears."

One of my favourite stories in the bible is of the Prodigal Son, in Luke 15. We're at the part of the story (verse 18) where the son's walking down the road towards the house he abandoned years earlier, planning how he'll tell his dad just how bad he messed up, spending all that money and shaming the family. He's planning on asking to live and work among his father's servants. Meanwhile, way down the road, his dad, who's been watching for him (for years, apparently), is RUNNING towards him. He can't wait to welcome him home. He's been waiting for a sign that his son has turned back towards him. The father reaches him and immediately wraps him with his finest robe and has a feast prepared for his 'welcome home' party. The son had only to come back, and the welcome his father had for him was far greater than he could ever have imagined.

Okay, we don't just cry when we've done something wrong, sometimes it's because someone has hurt us. Other times we may be tired of waiting, we find ourselves in another frustrating circumstance, anxiety, depression, fear, reservation, loss....

We know when it's time to cry out. You can't hold it in any longer. Right now? God's listening. He's waiting. He's watching for you to walk back down the road. He'll meet you were you are. He's faithful.

Psalm 40:1 "I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry"

This song is so beautiful. The history and meaning behind the names we can use to cry to God help paint a picture of God's faithfulness and attributes. Reminds me of who's in control of things when I lose control.

El Shaddai
The name then refers to the pre-Mosaic patriarchal understanding of deity as "God who is sufficient." God is sufficient, that is, to supply all of one's needs, and therefore by derivation "almighty". root meaning - "Almighty". Name of God used by Abraham, Jacob and Isaac. Connected to the notion of God's fertility, provision and blessings of the human race. Also, connected to Hebrew word Dai meaning "sufficient, enough, sufficiency".

Adonai - "my lord"
Psalm 3:4 "To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah"
NOTE: Selah means something like "stop and listen". I think sometimes we cry and then hurry back into our lives - make sure things stay 'normal'. Next time you cry out to God, stop and listen.God responds when we cry to Him. He hears the cries of the weak. Those who surrender their pride and bow before the heavenly throne of grace.

Jesus Christ
When I think of Jesus in the context of crying, I think of 2 different stories. The first is when Jesus mourns the death of Lazarus, his friend, in John chapter 11. To me, this story is a symbol of the reality of Jesus' suffering as a human being on the earth. The verb in the greek is actually not "wept" but "burst into tears". He lost his cool. A whole bunch of people were standing around grieving and he joined in. He wasn't okay. He knew real suffering. I am comforted by a God who knows suffering.The second story is when Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane when He if there's a chance that "this cup" (the task of dying on the cross for my sins) be removed from him - and he then CHOSES suffering to free me from mine. In Jesus is a beautiful picture of "crying out" to God.

Abba, Father - "daddy"
Romans 8:15&16 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (or adoption). And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
I like the idea of a perfect world where all dads love sacrificially in a way that their children are certain that they are wholly loved, respected, safe and completely provided for. That's our heavenly dad. For all our needs, when we cry out, like the father of the prodigal son, He welcomes us home.


WE CRY OUT - Gateway Worship

Father of Life, seated on your throne of grace
It's only by Your mercy we are saved
Lord, you have said, if we call upon Your Name
We and our families will be saved

So we cry out Your name
El shaddai, God of grace
Lord Most High, Jesus Christ
We rely on your grace
Adonai, crowned in praise
Lord Most High, Jesus Christ

Father of Love, never failing to forgive
Each moment is a gift from You to live
We're only here to tell the world about your grace
Until the day you take us all away

We will cry out Your name
El shaddai, God of grace
Lord Most High, Jesus Christ
We rely on your grace
Adonai, crowned in praise
Lord Most High, Jesus Christ

Abba, Father. Adonai, El Shaddai.

Matthew 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

February 26, 2009

home

There's something sacred about "home" to me.
Home base confirms i'm SAFE and my striving can stop.
Even the idea of being 'home free' is a sure-fire recipe for a hearty sigh of relief.
When i feel at home, I'm at rest. It rest assured that 'home' is around even when I'm not.
The foundation is sturdy and strong - rooted in friendships, honesty and grace.

I live in my parents house in Montreal for most of the year. I love my family and have grown in respect for the members within this house throughout my 21 years. Part of me is home here, with them. I can feel safe with them, be myself - no matter what. For the rest of the year, I live in a quaint cabin beside a basketball court in a place where 'combo-packs' and candy are valid currency. There, with friends who I admire and learn from everyday that we're together, I have a second home. Home is also the table that joins two friends meeting to hear eachother out after a falling out. We were MADE for that kind of 'home'-ness. It's called community!

Sometimes it's really not that comfy. Am I right? People move, people hurt, people forget, people leave and not least, people let you down. They may have their reasons, you may have your regrets, and their may be some brokenness. Home base is cracked. Home free is tampered with. It hurts, but is it lost? Where did 'home' start? Where did "safe and sound" take off? Well, with the God of the nation of Israel. His name was so holy that they didn't even spell it all the way out. They left out the vowels: Y-H-W-H.

Genesis 49:
24 But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father's God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the heavens above,
blessings of the deep that lies below,
blessings of the breast and womb.

You are steadied by the hand of the Mighty One. Don't you love that motherly imagery - a womb! Talk about protection. You're safe. He's faithful, and you can have real freedom in Him. Rest! Be real - don't leave anything out. Get to know this freedom, this resting place, this foundation. Be at home.


Yesterday, Today & Forever (Vicky Beeching)

Everlasting God, the years go by but you're unchanging
In this fragile world, You are the only firm Foundation
Always loving, always true,
Always merciful and good, so good

Yesterday, Today and Forever
You are the same You never change
Yesterday, Today and Forever
You are faithful
We will trust in You

Uncreated One, You have no end and no beginning
Earthly powers fade but there is no end to Your Kingdom
Always loving, always true,
Always merciful and good, so good

Yahweh, God unchanging
Yahweh, firm foundation
Yahweh, God unchanging
Yahweh, firm foundation

February 11, 2009

once upon a love story

okay, so let's all keep in mind... for this to be enjoyable, it's important to listen to the songs i talk about in the blog. it's kind of the point. I want you to enjoy them and react too! okay, great.

so, Montreal's a cold place, and the closest I've been to being completely "swept off my feet" recently was when I was almost laid out by a sheet of ice hurrying towards my afternoon class last Thursday. That's a bad feeling. Even among the many other ways I can think of being 'swept away', they always seem to involve losing control or being completely overwhelmed. One minute, you're swimming and suddenly you're caught in rapids pulling you downstream? Swept away. No control.

One of the greatest stories in the Bible, in my opinion, is when King David brings the ark back to Israel, and he was swept away in worship for God. In second Samuel 6:5&16 it says, "David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals... and David... danced before the Lord with all his might." What a great picture. Uncalculated, unprepared, unabashed, full-body worship. No rules or boundaries. David even gets reprimanded, and he says "I'll become even more ndignified than this..." in verse 22. There would be nothing stopping him from the overwhelming joy and praise he wanted to bring before His God. How exciting.

I was talking to a friend this week about the rules that are imposed on us, as well as the ones we impose on ourselves to keep us from being 'swept away'. It's a way we choose to control ourselves and our surroundings. We want to be comfortable by sticking to these rules, we
choose to "keep it under control" for the sake of our reputations, image, or whatever we find important. The thing that I would argue is broken in our use of a rule-based ethic is that it can overpower our belief that God wants to change us from the inside out with his perfect Love.

When we think of Jesus' love and grace given so freely, we can accept Him as the only agent of true freedom, creativity, satisfaction, brokenness, and real beauty in our lives. The truth that God loves me and created me to love Him is overwhelming and beautiful, freeing and lovely.

What is it about God that overwhelms you? When's the last time you were swept away in the truth of His love for you? What rules are keeping you from being totally immersed in His freedom? The love story of our Saviour is enough to catch anyone off guard. Don't be afraid to be loved by the One who came to love you.

John 10:9-11
"I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destrip. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep.


'Sweep Me Away' - Kari Jobe (new CD: kari jobe - not on youtube, sorry)

Father, I love Your ways.
You came in Your mercy, and died in my place.
All I can do is bow, because of Your goodness
and Your sovereign grace, that You...

Sweep me away. Sweep me away in Your love where nothing else matters.

Tears rolling down my face,
because of Your love and Your sweet embrace.
The peace that just overflows... it's here that I know
You have been waiting to...

Sweep me away. Sweep me away in Your love where nothing else matters.

Your grace, it covers me. Your love, it covers me. O God, You cover me.

January 29, 2009

love, though i'm not worthy

Psalm 8:3 - "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?"

There's something magical and unimaginable about growing up knowing that the King of all creation wants to be in relationship with you. At a very young age I accepted the grace God provided that I will never deserve through His Son, Jesus. I accepted the greatest gift with only a very little idea of the great cost only God could provide with His own son's blood.

Growing up I've learned through a bounty of stories and life-journeys filled with kindness and forgiveness from El Shaddai, Almighty God, God who gives life, that my God's love is matchless. I continue to learn about the sacrifice, this grace, my brokenness, my strivings and failings, and my unworthiness more and more as I fall down and am made to rise again. Each day I understand less why God keeps his hand stretched out to me, His arms wide open, His mercy in
sacrifice made free. Though I'm not worthy, He loves me.

Alright - go check out this song. There are a couple parts of this one that resonate with me...

"though i'm not worthy...

"to see your precious face":
1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].

Ha! It's hard to believe sometimes that our reality, where we live and as we breath, ache and soar, is just a warped and broken translation of what was intended. God has prepared so much more for us. We are given a glimpse of God's goodness in His desire to love us, and we can't understand the magnitude of his grace for us that extends so deep, to heal and make new.

"to feel your love":
Isaiah 30:18 - And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! Wonder of wonders, God moves towards me in my search for Him. He doesn't leave me to figure it out. He 'lifts Himself up', and then shows mercy.

"in your grace I long to stand":
Exodus 2:4-6
4 God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
He said, "Yes? I'm right here!"
5 God said, "Don't come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You're standing on holy ground."
6 Then he said, "I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob."
Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.

God desires a humble heart, and there's arguably not enough "facedown" worship taking place, but I love the picture of Moses walking towards the bush, sandals off, in reverence and humility, speaking with God. Discussing the next steps. God welcomes us to that place of community with Him.

It's crazy that God's grace far surpasses what would be expected of even a very kind job supervisor or best friend, except with God we're talking 'in-charge of-everything-has-every-right-to-give-up-on-me" when I fail, when I grieve him. It's bountiful. It's complete.

I'm not worthy.


'Though I'm Not Worthy'
Lyrics by: Curtis Stephan, sung by: Kari Jobe


though I'm not worthy
to see your precious face
i bow before thee
pour out your holy Grace
for you alone can wash my sin
and cleanse my soul so deep within

heal me, wash me in your mercy
mend these broken pieces of my heart
love me, though i am not worthy
cleanse my soul and make me whole again
only say the word and i shall be healed

though I'm not worthy
in your grace i love to stand
and bow before thee
stretch out your healing hand
for you alone can purify
and heal these wounds so deep inside

I'm not worthyto feel your love oh Lord
I bow before thee
my Saviour, be adored
for you alone break hardened hearts
and bid old bitterness depart


----------------------------------------------

Jeremiah 31:3&4 - "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built... Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers."