November 9, 2010

sound

my life as a noise-maker-- I AM AN INSTRUMENT OF THE LIVING GOD.

when i think of a noise-maker... i think: obnoxious. it's only function is to frustrate.

when i think of a bell, perhaps a more sophisticated noise-maker, i think it's either time for dinner, time for church, or i'm being told the time. the first association comes from a conditioned response to a method my mom used throughout my childhood so that she wouldn't have to yell up or down many stairs in a semi-detached split-level house we lived in. the others, more normalized within the dominant North American culture, can be identified as the 'call to worship' from a church's steeple bells and also the bells at quarter to/past or on the hour ringing from a town's library, for example. in these examples and in many ways, a bell's purpose is to be obnoxious. that is, to cut through layers of silence, snap the unsuspecting victims out of routine to pay attention to their related message.

why are we talkin' bells here? well, i'm starting to think i have the role of a bell. my actions, my words, the things i do... they all touch others in some way. recently, i was thinking of the sound of a bell as it relates to worship. worship, as the living out of a life or in art or in song, is a sound, ringing out and reaching the Father's ears.

In 2nd Corinthians 2:15, the Bible says 'we are to God the aroma of Christ' in any of the places and among whomever we find ourselves. that's a cool, and more than slightly concerning, idea. more often then not, there's nothing about what i have to give that might be 'good'. since i believe the God of the universe is very interested in what i do, sing, say, and the way i live... composing some sort of unique "rachel" melodies... it's important to me that what He's listening to be a really sweet sound.

making noise in community-- ALL CREATION WILL SING: Hallelujah!

it's impossible to live and not have some sort of effect on others. everyone's got their own quirks and
"...God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" - Eph 2:4,5

all kinds of noise-- WORSHIP IS EVERYTHING

Psalm 150:6 "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!"

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sweet, sweet sound
(by: sarah reeves)

i am an instrument of the Living God
my life a melody to His name
more than the songs i sing
worship is everything
i live to glorify my King

hear the song of my life
let it be a sweet, sweet sound
let it be a sweet, sweet sound
i raise this anthem high
let it be a sweet, sweet sound
let it be a sweet, sweet sound

through all the mire and clay
you're washing me with grace
you carry me, o Lord, through it all
so i will testify even in the fire
i live to praise my Saviour

let everything that has breath praise the Lord
and all creation will sing:
'hallelujah!'

October 5, 2010

greater, stronger, higher, healer...

there was a night this summer that i felt terribly alone. i was afraid. i was being brave, of course, and didn't open my door to the hallway full of friends. mind you, this was past curfew, so no one should have been awake. however, i was awake. i started to write......

the words came and calmed my heart as I extolled my Heavenly Father for His unmatched goodness and faithfulness, strength and beauty. As I wrote, I was reminded that nothing can be too great a sin, a foothold, a burden, a lie, a fear or anything else... absolutely nothing could be too great for Him to overcome.

then I arrived back in Toronto and started a bible study with some of the most remarkable women I've known, and as we studied the week of/before Thanksgiving in the first chapter of Ephesians (vv.18-23)... I was brought back to the words written one dark, lonely night at camp....

"having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,that you may know (understand) what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards those who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named...."

this song rings true. when i sing it, i'm reminded of the great works Jesus performed on earth, the goodness of the Father who sent Him and the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit, who is the great Helper, and who walks our journey with us.

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Our God
(by: chris tomlin)

water you turned into wine
opened the eyes of the blind
there's no one like you
none like You

into the darkness you shine
out of the ashes we rise
there's no one like You
none like You

our God is greater
our God is stronger
God you are higher than any other
our God is healer
awesome in power
our God, our God

and if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
and if our God is with us, then what could stand against?

June 12, 2010

ever, only, all of me

the scariest part of offering what you have to give is the great possibility that it will be rejected. you look to the right or left and see better gifts being offered. you know that your most sincere givings don't measure up. insecurity builds; you can't find a reason to try giving again. you can't remember why you tried in the first place.

sometimes i think worship comes as a declaration in response to the goodness and faithfulness of our Heavenly Father (Psalm 57:9-11). sometimes its in an act of obedience, bringing our gifts - big or very small - and laying them back down at His feet (Mark 12:42-44). a challenge for me is that it would be in our lives a prayer, asking to be Jesus' hands and feet to those who we know are hurting around us.

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Take My Life (and let it be) - Chris Tomlin

Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy Love
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee

Take my voice and let me sing, always only for my King
Take my lips and let them be, filled with messages from Thee
Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use every power as you choose

Here am I, all of me
Take my life, it's all for Thee

Take my will and make it Thine; It shall be no longer mine
Take my heart, it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne
Take my love, my Lord, I pour, at your feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be ever only all for Thee

May 14, 2010

here comes the bride

even the thought of a bride walking down the aisle gets me every time. gets me thinking, that is, and for good reason, about choice and love, promises and beauty. the beauty lies in the act of one person surrendering their right to pursue their own selfish goals and choosing sacrifice for the benefit of the other... 'as long as they both shall live'. it's promise is for forever. it's real. it's beautiful. it's really beautiful.

i was listening not long ago to a man speak about the choice we make for God when we choose to 'do life' with Him. when my choices become not only an inner dialogue but a group discussion. it includes being part of community and being accountable for my life's choices. he said that the real question Jesus is asking us as we journey through life is "will you marry me?". that is: will you, forsaking all others, love Me?

it's the 'forsaking all others' bit that I have trouble with when it comes to my relationship with Jesus. i love God, and with His loving kindness and faithfulness, it's not Him that makes it a difficult task. but, boy, do i love others. i thrive on the approval of those 'others' and am spurred on by the slightest inclination of "well done". these come in the form of a smile, nod, wink, high five, pat on the back, props*, laugh, direct verbal affirmation, an "i'll take that as a compliment" moment.... yep, gimme anything and i'll boast of it to myself. it's often in the words and encouragement or discouragement others that i choose to cling. it's the story i tell myself - 'they think you are so...' whatever it is.

Henri Nouwen says (Inner Voice of Love) "your inexhaustible need for affection is an addiction. stop being a pleaser and reclaim your identity as a free self... let go of all these self-made props* and trust that God is enough for you".

God calls me away from the 'others' rat race i find myself caught up in. i'm beckoned to come, be welcomed in, stand before Him, and find myself in the Truth of His love for me.

Nouwen goes on to say: "you are being asked to trust that you will find what you need in [Him]... which requires the death of what has become so precious to you: influence, success, yes, even affection and praise".

maybe that's what's beautiful about a bride & groom - their relationship is a gift whereby God restores to them the Truth of who they are in the presence of their beloved. the truth of themselves as one who is loved. the new couple is choosing life together as a 'carrying out' of the Love poured on them by their Maker.

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My Beloved
(by:kari jobe)

you're my beloved, you're my bride
to sing over you is my delight
come away with me, my love
under my mercy come and wait
'til we are standing face to face
i see no stain on you, my child
you're beautiful to me
so beautiful to me

i sing over you my song of peace
cast all your cares down at my feet
come and find your rest in me
i'll breathe my life inside of you
i'll bear you up on eagle's wings
and hide you in the shadow of my strength
i'll take you to my quiet waters
i'll restore your soul
come rest in me and be made whole
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Matthew 22:14
"Now go to the main roads & invite to the wedding feast as many as you can find"

April 17, 2010

only a child of God

i've been thinking a lot about my 'Grandma' this week. i've often wondered what it's like to have lived so much life and have just so many stories and lessons to tell. use your pinky to remove the batter from the spoon, and enjoy afternoon tea in a tea cup! through her example, my grandmother has taught me that Jesus is trustworthy and faithful. she learned what she could do for Jesus and went alone to another country at a young age to fulfill what He would have her do. over 60 years later, the only response that counts is 'well done'.
thinking this week, i've found that it is in the image of someone becoming so weak, even to the point of death, i am reminded of the wreck i am without Jesus. i have to cling to the truth of who He can be in my life. i must believe His faithfulness endures when my mind can't fathom what good can come of a situation. i need to rest in the truth that i am carried by the Love of God for me.

the truth says "even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength" (isaiah). i don't think my Grandma will get better, but i know she will be renewed. she will have life... to its fullest. she will laugh, and dance, and sing.

i've found the "story" of Psalm 37 talking about 'a faithful servant' to be encouraging this week. i find joy in the truth saying those who find refuge in God will "delight themselves in abundant peace" (v.11)... and "their heritage will remain forever" (v.18). Truly God is faithful to those He loves. The psalmist recounts "i have been young... i have not seen the righteous forsaken... He is ever lending generosity" (v.25/6). God is so good.


we can let Him love us. we can give Him our burdens. we can be loved completely with perfect love. we can find rest and wholeness. we can be made new. we can have a Father that knows us fully. we can choose to know our King as a loving Father and surrender to the Love given to us.

when everything melts away, defences disappear and strength is gone - the result is i am only a child of God. i find my identity, my confidence and hope in that. it's all that matters, and it's everything.
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Child of God
(kathryn scott)

with every breath
with every thought
from what is seen
to the deepest part
i offer all that i've come to be
to know your love
Fathering me

Father, you're all I need
my soul's sufficiency
my strength when i am weak
the love that carries me
your arms enfold me
'til i am only
a child of God

with every step on this journey's walk
and wisdom songs that the soul has sought
i give myself unreservedly
to know your love
Fathering me

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i find this to be an appropriate Scottish blessing to quote today:

" I arise today through a mighty strength: God's power to guide me, God's might to uphold me, God's eyes to watch over me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to give me speech, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to shelter me, God's host to secure me."

April 6, 2010

spring sing

my God reigns in power and is great beyond measure.
truthfully, there aren't many good things that 'free' and 'lead' us. many things keep us hidden, ashamed, fearful... we like to play it safe, stay quiet, to ourselves... when we were meant to live 'out loud' and give our best!

Psalm 13: 5 & 6

"But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me."

the Love that frees us

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!"

promises that He will "turn their mourning into joy" (Jer. 31:13)

the Life that leads us

God speaks to Jeremiah (15:19&20):

"If you return and give up this mistaken tone of distrust and despair,
then I will give you again a settled place of quiet and safety,
and you will be My minister... you shall be My mouthpiece.
I am with you to save and deliver you"


grateful that You hear us

Psalm 16:2
I say to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."

Psalm 34:4
"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears."

Matthew 18:20
"For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in My name, the I AM in the midst of them."

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Sing, Sing, Sing - Chris Tomlin


what's not to love about you?

heaven and earth adore you

kings and kingdoms bow down

Son of God, you are the One

we're living for


you are the love that frees us

you are the light that leads us

like a fire burning

Son of God, you are the One

we're living for


Sing, sing, sing

and make music with the heavens

sing, sing, sing

grateful that you hear us

when we shout your praise

lift high the name of Jesus

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March 22, 2010

two things

You don't go far into the story of Jesus... y'know, the one where God comes to earth to die and save me... before you're stunned. It is completely amazing in itself as a story, but then the birds sing, the children laugh, the sun shines on the water and you lie on your back looking at the stars in a place where electricity is considered overrated.... and your amazement sinks in deep. This story of Love is breathtaking, when you stop to see it; when it reaches you.

It's one girl's story, but it is mine. There have been times, as I'm sure there'll be again, where I've found myself surrounded by overwhelming discouragement, in a busy life that clouds joy or keeps me from time to with my King to remember just who I am because of Who loves me. There's no one who loves me like Jesus does.

I've been learning that though things get complicated, there are really are only two really simple things that I need to know in my life. These are, first, that God Almighty is powerful beyond measure and, second, God loves me. God made a world and everything in it, put joy in our hearts and saved us with His Son, and gave us Truth... and that's the message He whispers to me: I'm everything you need.

Again: amazed. If God is powerful beyond measure, the art of trusting Him should become very simple. If God loves me, then who cares who doesn't?

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Your Love Is Strong
[Jon Foreman]

Heavenly Father, you always amaze me let Your kingdom come in my world and in my life
give me the food i need to live through the day
and forgive me as i forgive the people that wrong me
lead me far from temptation
deliver me from the evil one

I look out the window, the birds are composing
not a note is out of tune or out of place
i walk to the meadow and stare at the flowers
better dressed than any girl on her wedding day

so why should i worry? why do i freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need

Your love is... Your love is... Your love is strong!

The kingdom of the heavens is now advancing
Invade my heart, invade this broken town
The kingdom of the heavens is buried treasure
would you sell yourself to buy the one you found?

two things you told me:
that you are strong and you love me
yes, you love me

Your love is... Your love is... Your love is strong!

[the Lord's prayer]

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Psalm 23 (paraphrase: The Message)

'God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the day goes through
Death Valley,
I'm not afraid
when you walk by my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

January 14, 2010

rest assured

Isaiah 51:9-16
Awake, awake, put on strength...
Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep,
who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over?
The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come... with singing.
Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
"I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies...
...and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker; I am the Lord you God... the Lord of hosts.
And I have put my words in your mouth
and covered you in the shadow of my hand,
establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth,
and saying to Zion, 'You are my people.' "

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God has gone to amazing lengths to save the ones who are His own. It's amazing to claim God's gifts for us and bask in His goodness to us!

Imagine working with God like Moses did! After Moses has taken off his sandals and listened to the messages coming from none other than a burning bush... he's got his task... lead God's people in a mass exodus from Egypt! God wasn't interested in sitting back as His people suffered in slavery to the Egyptians. God speaks to His people through Moses: 'I am the Lord, and I will bring you out form under the burdens... I will deliver you from slavery... I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts... I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens...' (Exodus 6:6-7). God deals in liberation. He wins battles ("Jesus is da winna man", anyone?). He conquers all. He's our Protector.

God comes to our aid. We have just to seek Him out. Sit. Be still. Listen. Obey.

hide me... cover me... protect me... love me

The question is not "will He come?", but "have I stopped to invite Him to join me here?"...

Psalm 145:13-19 "The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works. The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing... The Lord is near to all who call on him... he also hears their cry and saves them."

rest, my soul
(GOD IS THE LOVE THAT WILL BRING REST)
Henri Nouwen, everybody...
"... stop wandering around. Instead, come home and trust that God will bring you what you need. Your whole life you have been running about, seeking the love you desire. Now it is time to end that search. Trust that God will give you that all-fulfilling love and will give it in a human way... Just stop running and start trusting and receiving."
- The Inner Voice of Love, pg.12

know His power in quietness and trust
Have you ever felt like you needed to defend someone who's going down with the ship and you know it's wrong? Sometimes when I'm in a situation like that I think, "This can't be happening... this isn't how it's supposed to go...". I'm rocked when I have just to believe that my God is bigger than whatever the situation!

Psalm 46:10-11 "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

soar with You
We were created to be in community with God. Friends with Him. When we call to Him, we are giving up our oh-so-natural "I can do this" efforts and saying "I'll let you be God on this one. I need you to fill me, meet me, and work through me here" instead. God just knows better. We need him.

Also of note... who doesn't want to SOAR!? Just a small example of how His ways are so much greater than ours.

Beth Moore: "Why does God allow us to spend so much of life in the heat of battle? Because He never meant for us to sip His Spirit like a proper cup of tea. He meant for us to hold our sweating heads over the fountain and lap up His life with unquenchable thirst."

King over the flood (or the earthquake, or family falling apart, or being laid off work...)
This verse has been a comfort to me at camp for the last couple summers, in particular, where knowing that God's sovereign in His infinite wisdom and His promise of peace can satisfy.
Also, my dear friend Jacqueline shared this verse today in reference to the catastrophe in Haiti...

Isaiah 54:10
"For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart form you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,"
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

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Still (by: Reuben Morgan)

Hide me now under Your wings
Cover me within Your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father, You are King over the flood
I will be still and know You are God

Find rest my soul in Christ alone
Know His power in quietness and trust