Saturday, December 31, 2011

When GOD "Wrecks" Your Heart ... Read On!

This is a fabulous, articulate, elegant, honest description of suffering and the God Who is ALWAYS present and accounted for NO MATTER WHAT!
I just got an email this AM that had shattering news. This is just what my heart needs for today! I'm sharing it because it just might be what your heart needs too! Thank you, Charity Keldie! God bless you!

When you’re wrecked by God
By on December 31, 2011
One year ago today, I sat waiting in a doctor’s office with my 4-year-old son William. He joyfully played with a dinosaur sticker book while I sat in silence trying to hold back tears and just breathe. We were waiting for results of a biopsy we had done on a large mass in William’s knee. It had been two months of him being unable to walk, doctors’ offices, MRIs, a biopsy and waiting.

Time had become my enemy. Just nine months earlier, my husband had died. In a lot of ways, those nine months had felt like nine years. Nine years of going to bed alone every night, raising our kids alone, and grief. But at the same time, it seemed like my husband had just died nine days ago. The grief was still so raw. How could there be more grief coming? Would I have to watch my little boy die, just like I had watched his daddy die? It just seemed like too much…
One year ago today, my little boy was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – bone cancer. Hearing the doctor’s words left me speechless. I didn’t cry, scream or really react at all. On the outside I was calm and strong. But on the inside, darkness fell. I couldn’t believe God was bringing more suffering and tragedy into our lives.
The doctor insisted on a second opinion. He sent all of William’s tests to the Mayo clinic and asked me to wait another week. Another week! Another week of not fighting this disease that was trying to steal his life. It made me angry. I did not want to wait. I wanted to fight. I wanted to do everything possible to save my son’s life. To me, waiting was like allowing death to move closer. And I wanted nothing of that. But I wasn’t given much of a choice…
Over the next three days, we would wait. The waiting was dark. I did not have hope. I would research bone cancer and cry. I would buy books on how to explain cancer to a child. I would begin making a plan on how to help my son through chemo, surgeries and lots of time at the hospital. I would try to make myself okay with the possibility of an amputation. And I would pray. My prayers were a mess. There were no eloquent phrases. In fact, all there really was was a deep groaning of my soul that the Holy Spirit took before God. And amidst the tears and groaning, there was a very quiet whisper of “Your will be done.”
One year ago today was the darkest day of my life. This widow was dealt a blow that she could not handle. And it was one of the most loving things that God could have done. Because God used the darkness to show me just how good the light was. After three days of darkness and waiting, God shone a light into my heart that brought me to my knees. On December 30, the doctor called. William’s original diagnosis was wrong. He did not have bone cancer. The mass was benign. He would need surgery and nothing more. No chemo. No amputation. There was no cancer.
Throughout this whole ordeal, God was so good. In the waiting, He was helping me learn to trust Him more. He was reminding me of His sovereignty over our lives. In the darkness, He was revealing the darkness of the sin in my heart. He was showing me how generous and faithful He was. He was reminding me that this life, this place is not my real home – He has something far better for me. And if there would have been no second diagnosis, if William did have bone cancer, God would still be good. He would show us His faithfulness to carry us through suffering and teach us to rely on Him. He would continue to strip our affections from things of this world and attach them to Him.
One year ago today, God wrecked my heart. He took me to a very dark place and asked me to wait in it. And I am so very, very thankful.
“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” John 12:46

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pay It Forward with My Heart in 2012!

Pay it forward is kind of a new pop expression. I don't know what Google would say it means but I think I know that it means doing the right and loving and relational thing in the now for the benefit of then. I'm thinking - How can I significantly pay forward in 2012?
2011? One thing about this year that stands out is how much I've learned - how to use Facebook marginally, how to be more proficient with a computer, how to understand Latin grammar concepts better than knowing them but well enough to teach them (still working on that one!), how to focus more on important things than just on the tyranny of urgent things, how to forgive even egregious sins and to walk away assimilating God's grace both for me and for the offender and many others.
A year ago I had a Facebook page my son set up but not a clue how to use it. The why use it is entirely because one daughter-in-law communicates almost exclusively thru Facebook. I haven't come to that easily. I JUST found out the difference between "home" and "news" yesterday. I have been asking and asking and no one seemed to know the difference. I'm much less frustrated since that small but significant discovery. I'm still working on Klout. I'm tweeting and making great friends and connections on Twitter. In short, I'm a pretty "with it" grandmother!
In the years of my lifetime our culture has changed in huge ways. We live much more insulated lives. We don't know our neighbors - due to many factors: business, the tyranny of the urgent and air conditioning. Air conditioning? You betcha - no one sits on their front porch or back porch fanning, chilling and talking like "back in the day" (as Pittsburgers say). We prefer our cool homes. There is little or no comraderie in that!
People who go to church don't feel long term commitments to that church so the first wind of change or unease that blows - off to try a greener pasture! Instead of looking in a book or asking a grandmother, we look for advice to blogs and Google. Instead of meals seated with the family at a table set with silverware and plates we drive thru and eat on the way!
Wait! Before you accuse my of cynicism, let me quickly affirm that I resemble all of the above! I don't know my neighbors. I too spend hours at my computer writing, reading and researching rather than turning outward with open hands and arms. I too have too often settled for "friending" online or email instead of knocking on a friend's door or sending a card or note.
At this time of year we reflect on how God chose to send His Son into the world and how God chose to announce that coming. If Jesus had come this year, surely God would have used the internet and television to get the word out. Perhaps God's choice of WHEN He sent His Son sends us a message. Jesus spent the last three years of His life involved with people in hands-on, intimate deep relationships! God still chooses to relate to us and have us relate to Him in deep relationship! In fact, God created us IN HIS OWN IMAGE so that we have an inescapable need for face-to-face, heart-to-heart relationships! It is that true belonging with God and others that satisfies the longings in our hearts and souls!
My prayer for 2012 is that I will take the risks and do the time and invest the energy to build deeper relationships with God and others! O, I won't desert Facebook or my computer. Those things are good and almost necessary in our culture BUT I also want to pursue the main and greater things of building and maintaining relationship with God and others! I can pay forward in 2012 only if and when God changes my heart to find more quiet space far from the rapid pace that life is! May God make it so in my heart in 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sometimes victory seems so far away because we measure it by the end goal. And end goals can seem overwhelmingly huge, daunting and just plain hard to reach. Instead, if we start measuring our victories by the smaller choices we make each day, victory won't seem so impossible.
Big things are built one brick at a time.
Victories are achieved one choice at a time.
A life well lived is chosen one day at a time.
Dear Lord, I know that with You, victory is indeed possible!

--Lysa TerKeurst

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Heart Hug for Always!

If joy is surrounding you today remember.....................
If sorrow clobbers you today.......................................
If all's right in your world today....................................
If the bottom is dropping out.......................................
If you feel loved and cherished....................................
If you feel abandoned and alone.................................
When all these things and more happen in your world, always remember Jesus' words: I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20) Think about how long "always" is - It's a VERY long time - like forever!
How's that for a heart hug today?

They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.
(Psalm 78:35)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Prayer for a Christmas Heart

If our hearts be not rocks, this love of Christ should affect us . Behold love that passeth knowledge! --Thomas Watson

Lord, this is my Christmas prayer: Give me a living heart to love and serve the Christmas Savior always! Take away my heart of stone! Come to my heart, Lord Jesus! Come to my heart to stay!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Small Heart?

Remember the Grinch? He's the mean green creation of Dr. Seuss whose heart is several sizes too small. He tries to steal Christmas from all the Whos down in Whoville and is totally bummed when he discovers that just taking their stuff - Christmas presents and decorations and food for the Christmas feast - didn't take away Christmas at all! He stands in the snow and cold high on his mountain on Christmas morning just waiting for the BOO-HOOs to start. And, hark! What does he fear? Not sobbing but singing! The Whos are all gathered in the center of town in a huge circle all holding hands singing Christmas songs of joy!
That's when Grinch begins to discover that the problem all along has been inside his own heart - too small! The Grinch returns all the "loot" he stole and joins in the Whos' Christmas celebration and feast. Dr. Seuss concludes that the Grinch's small heart grew two sizes that day!
Wanna keep a small heart? Never be the first one to humble yourself and apologize!
(Scotty Smith)
Well, what goes for Grinchs also goes for you and me!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Heart Gifts

A sign you're growing in grace: You'd rather give & receive costly heart-gifts than expensive stuff-gifts! --Scotty Smith

Monday, December 19, 2011

Make Room in My Heart!

The humility of the cross is the only answer for the hubris in my heart!
--Scotty Smith

O, come to my heart, Lord Jesus! Make room in my heart for Thee!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Courage In!

I love the word encourage–when you do it,you literally put "courage in" to that person. Someone may be more battered than you know,closer to going down or giving up than you could imagine.You never know when your encouragement might be the difference in that person's life.When you're bruised& hurting, it's that person in your corner who can get you back in the ring for another round! - -R Hutchcraft

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why the Grinch Tried to Steal Christmas!

It was a heart problem - plain and simple! Mean, green Mr. Grinch hated the Whos, their singing, their sparkly trees, their Christmas feast, their fun and what he hated, hated the most was their joy! Quite mistakenly Mr. Grinch thought the Whos joy in Whoville came from the trappings of Christmas. So he hatched a diabolical plan to steal Christmas from Whoville and put to death forever all the joy in Whoville.
He rides into Whoville in the dark of night and absconds with every present, decoration and morsel of the Christmas feast he can choke down his mean, green throat or carry away in his buldging bag. Then he stands high above Whoville just watching and waiting for the cries of "BOO-HOO"!
"He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes! ... What he saw was a shocking surprise! Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing! Without any presents at all! HE HADN'T STOPPED CHRISTMAS FROM COMING! iT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same!"
Mr. Grinch just didn't get the heart part! Mr. Grinch had an epiphany of sorts high on his icy mountain: "How could it be? ... Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more."
Mr. Grinch finally started to understand. Without radical surgery on every Who in Whoville he couldn't steal Christmas as Christmas comes from the heart.
It started long before the world began in the heart of God. It was thousands of years before God dropped the greatest Present of all into our world! God had been watching and waiting for just the right time and then "Kazaam!" Jesus came and Christmas was and IS in the heart of every man, woman, boy or girl who understands that Christmas comes from within the heart no matter whether there is a tree, a gift or a treat when Jesus lives in that heart! That's why Whos in Whoville can sing when it doesn't seem possible - because the joy is heart deep! AND the Whos down in Whoville say, "The Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!" (with apologies and thanks to Dr. Seuss!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Amazing Heart for God!

A number of years ago I met a pastor and seminary professor who didn't impress me much at first. He was kind of scrawny and had a weird kind of voice and weirder laugh when he spoke and taught. BUT my first impression was so far off the mark! Jack Miller and his wife RoseMarie were two great servants of the King in His Kingdom!
Jack left many wise and wonderful insights carved into my heart and worked into the warp and woof of my life. He was a man of incredible humility who once said, "If people could really see into my heart, they'd be even more critical of me than they already are." Jack Miller wasn't into building his own kingdom. Jack Miller didn't care what people thought of Jack Miller BUT Jack Miller cared with all his life and heart what people thought about Jesus and he spent his life teaching people about God's amazing grace in very practical ways!
Jack Miller taught me so much about grace and joy and living in the love of Jesus! He taught me that the single most important thing in life beside loving God and others well is to "preach the Gospel" to my own heart every day!
God took Jack to heaven a number of years ago. Jack left a legacy of many hearts and lives changed forever as God used Jack to be His instrument to impact hearts with God's grace!
Thank you, Jesus, for your servant Jack Miller and the ways God used him and RoseMarie to impact my life!

Scotty Smith
Jack Miller, the man who taught me the most about grace, was the most missional, prayerful & joyful man I've ever met.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Love that Holds Onto Me!

O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be!
O Light, that followest all my way, I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray that in Thy sunshine's blaze its day may brighter, fairer be!
O Joy, that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee;

I trace the rainbow through the rain and feel the promise is not vain that morn shall tearless be.
O Cross, that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee;

I lay in dust life's glory dead and from the ground there blossoms red - life that shall endless be!
--George Matheson, 1843-1906

Saturday, December 10, 2011

God Wins with Weakness!

Christmas reminds us of the truth that God wins with weakness! God sent His only and deeply loved Son to earth in human skin precisely to deal with weakness, pain and loss - in a word, the effect of sin ravaging nature, culture and our hearts! Jesus came as a baby so He could live just like we do. He came to die and live again to take care of our sin problem!

The peculiar mark of God’s majesty is not just that he stoops to listen to or take thought of or care for infants, but that he makes them the means of his triumphs. God conquers his foes through the weaknesses of the weak—the speech of babies. When you think of God as a warrior, remember: He wins with weakness.
--John Piper,
The Peculiar Mark of Majesty, Part 1, delivered April 1, 2007.

Thank you, Babe of Bethlehem - the Messiah of God!
Thank you, Emmanuel - God with us!
Thank you, Savior of the world - Jesus!
Thank you, Risen Conquering King!

Friday, December 9, 2011

End of the Rainbow for Searching Heart!

Better than a pot of gold!

Your searching heart will only rest when it looks one place for life, that is, to God and God alone. -- Paul Tripp

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Two Horses - Walk by Faith!

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it.
From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse. But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing.....
Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.
This alone is amazing!

If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.
Attached to the horse's halter is a small bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.
As you stand and watch these two friends, you'll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is, trusting that he will not be led astray.
When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, it stops occasionally and looks back, making sure that the blind friend isn't too far behind to hear the bell.
Like the owner of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges.
He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need.
Sometimes we are the blind horse Being guided by the little ringing bell of those who God places in our lives.
Other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way....
Friends are like that... You may not always see them, but you know they are always there.
Listen for my bell and I'll listen for yours.
And remember...
Be kinder than necessary - - - Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly........
And leave the rest to God!

Angel Comfort

In a world that puts limitations on God’s power, the reminder, to quote John Page’s letter to Thomas Jefferson, “that an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm” is not only very comforting – but also very true. --Jim Daly, Focus on the Family

Protect Your Heart!

“Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with those who are reckless with yours.” -Mary Schmich

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Waiting Heart

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. --Psalm 27:14

Thank you, Joni, for this wonderful blog today!

Worth the Wait

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. --Psalm 27:14

Waiting on the Lord means putting his desires before our own, believing that he will meet our needs with generosity and love in his good time. But it's difficult sometimes. You may find yourself mightily tempted to do something on the spur of the moment. It may be an important decision. A desire you want gratified. A choice you don't feel like putting off, or something you just want now. Your itchiness to have things your way has you ready to settle for something of lower quality or less value. It could be a special purchase. Or a choice in jobs. Or a relationship. It could be a crossroads in your ministry. And the truth is... you really don't want to check in with the Lord, discern his mind and his desires, and wait for his green light.

Ah, but while we may regret a hasty decision a million times over, we will never regret waiting on the Lord. You can never go wrong as you wait and pray and still yourself in his presence, seeking his mind and heart. He'll end up giving you something better. He will give you wisdom as well as himself. And when you have apprehended him in a new, fresh way, it will all come clear. The choice will be obvious. The waiting will be worth it.

What you might provide for yourself by your effort, in your wisdom, and in your timing cannot be compared to what God has for you in his plan and in his timing. Are you at a crossroads of decision in your life? Are you dealing with a desire that's pushing you to hurry? Fight the temptation to run ahead of him. Lay your desires and petitions at his feet, and wait for his peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Father, how could I not trust you-you who gave your own Son so that I might become your child? I bow before you today, yielding up my hopes, dreams, desires. I know you will give me what is best.


Joni and Friends

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What's Up with the Grinch?

Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot ...
But the Grinch, who lived just North of Who-ville did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, plese don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn't screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small! --Dr. Seuss

Over 50 years ago Dr. Seuss created his wonderful villain the Grinch - that is, if villains can ever be wonderful! In fact the cultural connection with the Grinch is described as: "The term Grinchy shall apply when Christmas spirit is in short supply." (quote from the Book of Who also by Dr. Seuss)

The Grinch appears in Seuss' children's book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" The Grinch is an evil, self-absorbed, greedy thief of joy in any season! The Grinch is willing to go to ANY lengths to derail joy for the entire generic town of Whoville.

The Grinch is ugly green with uglier yellow eyes. He lives in an isolated cave on a rocky slope high above Whoville. He despises Christmas simply because his heart is "two sizes too small" and, I might add, rotten to the core! Grinch hatches a plan to steal Christmas and all its trappings from the Whos in Whoville. He dons a skinny Santa suit as disguise.

Christmas 2011 will soon be here. If the stores are to be believed Christmas came sometime around September 25th this season! Dr. Seuss wrote clever stories to entertain children. Like C.S. Lewis and others, Seuss' stories have grown-up lessons hidden beneath the story for children. The Grinch has some lessons for us:

  • It's Christmas! There is a REAL Grinch who tries to steal Christmas - Satan. AND his heart is MORE than 2 sizes too small! It's totally twisted much worse than the Grinch's! The Bible describes the Satan Grinch as one who prowls around looking for ways to destroy and people to fatally attack much like the Grinch plotting against Christmas and the Whos of Whoville.

  • Our hearts are twisted by sin and brokenness! NOTHING works the way God intended when He set the stars in place and created man to live in a perfect place!

Because of sin and brokenness there is desperate need for Christmas and for the Christmas Savior! God looks down from His heaven (high above the Grinch's cave and the village of Whoville) and sees a world irretrievably broken. And the only hope for this kind of brokenness is the Christmas Savior! O, come let us adore Him! (from O Come All Ye Faithful carol)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. --2 Cor. 4:16-18

The magnificence of this promise is stunning in such a broken, sin-stained world!

  • Why God would choose to set His love upon me is astonishing and radical beyond comprehension!

  • Why God would care about my heart "losing heart" after all my acts of rebellion against Him is only due to His utterly amazing grace!

  • Why God would plan for eternal life and send His one and only deeply beloved Son to accomplish that plan is the marvelous message of the Gospel!
Think of the rest - "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
A week after His resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples as He had a week earlier. Thomas was missing the first time and he doubted that Jesus was really alive. Jesus encouraged Thomas to put his finger into the wounds in His hands. Thomas proclaimed Jesus as "My Lord and My God!" Then Jesus makes a statement that is perhaps keyed to these verses from Corinthians. Jesus said, "Thomas, you believe because you see. Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed." --John 20:19-31 Jesus is the unseen eternal One in Whom we have believed! He had me (and you) in His heart when He spoke to Thomas! He knew that God would draw us to believe in His Son and that we would fix our eyes on what is unseen but eternal! Therefore, we do not lose heart because our focus is on Him who walks with us thru every trial and difficulty and knowing HIM makes ALL the difference!

Dark Night of the Soul

There is a dark night of the soul! I know! I've been there!

I read recently that Mother Teresa describes the pain of the soul's dark night: "I am told God loves me—and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul …. What tortures of loneliness. I wonder how long will my heart suffer like this?"

Pray for men and women in ministry especially. Pray for those groping thru these dark nights of the soul! Pray that every one will feel the hug of God in the darkness!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Grace for My Obedient Heart!

If you explain away your disobedience, you won't seek the grace that has the power to form a willingly obedient heart in you.
--Paul David Tripp

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A New Heart or A Vain Heart?

Believing the gospel is harder than trying to obey the law.
The first requires a new heart, the second a vain heart
-- Scotty Smith

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Divine Distastes

And he could bear Israel's misery no longer. --Judges 10:15-16

God has a strong distaste for suffering. His tenderness is aroused by human anguish. But what all of those natural disasters? you wonder. If he's so touched by suffering, why does he allow events like that terrible tsunami that swept across the shores of Asia in 2004? The suffering and loss of life were beyond comprehension.

I can't begin to explain the unexplainable. But I know this: If Adam had never fallen, if the Creator could rewrite the story, he would have never allowed suffering out of the cage. "For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men" (Lamentations 3:33). But sin did leave the cage and, consequently, the curse fell. And ever since man's rebellion in the Garden of Eden, our world has groaned under wars, floods, earthquakes, disease, and much more. Like you, I shake my head at the mysterious plans and purposes of God. Tragedies like these either drive people away from God... or draw them to him. Calamities either harden people's hearts... or soften them as they run to the Lord for help and hope.

And beyond all else, I know this about my Father's heart: "God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him." And again, "God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son" (Romans 5:8, 8:32, The Message).

No one could ever accuse God of "sitting back and watching" while people suffer. How could anyone look at the cross and say anything like that?

Tragedies, great and small, happen every day in your community! How can you become God's hands and feet, his tender touch and his encouraging voice to those who suffer in your city-and in your world? Ask him to express his compassion toward hurting people through you.

Father, may I simply trust your heart, even today, when I can't trace your path.

Joni and Friends
Taken from Pearls of Great Price. Copyright © 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Thank you, Joni, for this blessing today!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Good is a Busted Heart?

Winter has come back again
Feels like the season won't end
My faith is dying tonight
And I won't try to pretend
I've got it all figured out
I don't have any doubts
I've got a busted heart
I need You now - Yeah, I need You now

Hold on to me, hold on to me
Don't let me lose my way
Hold on to me -

I am the wandering son
Your love is never enough
I keep chasing the wind instead of chasing Your love
I'm screaming out Your name
Don't let me fall on my face
I've got a busted heart
I'm in need of a change
I'm desperate for grace

Hold on to me, take all of me
Don't let me lose my way - Hold on to me

Broke Your heart a thousand times
But You've never left my side
You have always been here for me
You never let me go - You never let me go
Don't ever let me go

Hold on to me, hold on to me
Don't let me lose my way
Hold on to me, Hold on to me, take all of me
Don't let me lose my way - Hold on to me!
Until it comes to an end
Soon this season will end
I'll surrender tonight - You meet me right where I am

--from the album For King & Country

What good is a busted heart? We all have one. We are all broken. The world is a mess. We are a mess!
Our glorious hope is that Jesus came to fix our busted hearts, lives and world! He is the King! AND the best part of all is that HE holds onto us not the other way around!! 'Cause busted hearts and people don't have a very strong grip and tend to let go! SO it's the BEST news that He's the One holding on AND He will meet me (and you) "right where I am"I!

Hope for the Broken Heart!

Hope For The Broken Hearted

"He is intangible and invisible. But His work is more powerful than the most ferocious wind. The Spirit brings order out of chaos and beauty out of ugliness. He can transform a sin-blistered man into a paragon of virtue. The Spirit changes people. The Author of life is also the Transformer of life." --R.C Sproul

Speak from the Heart!

A voice of truth and determination can beat a loud voice.
Speak from the heart and people will listen. - Stuart Duncan

Friday, November 25, 2011

Distressed Heart!

I am deeply distressed. I just listened to President Barak Obama's Thanksgiving Day address to the nation. In it he spoke eloquently and smoothly as befits the gifted orator he is, but some of his words and phrases distress me.

  • He spoke of spending Thanksgiving Day with his family and reflecting on "how lucky we are."

  • He talked about being thankful for our service members ... and others "serving in soup kitchens and shelters" so that others can have a hot meal.

  • He spoke about a "mutual sense of responsibility" we share as Americans.

  • He talked about our having "faith that tomorrow would be better than today."

  • He mentioned the "pilgrims, pioneers and patriots who made our country great."

  • He spoke of all Americans having the "chance to determine our own destiny."

  • He said "all it takes is to work hard."

  • He talked about the "blessings of family, community and country."

  • He said, "We have to overcome the challenges of our time."

  • He concluded, "Together we can make tomorrow better than today."
I agree with most of what he said ONLY it doesn't go far enough! He never mentioned God at all! He never acknowledged that America is a great country because of the rockbed principles upon which our country was founded and constituted (as in our Constitution) which all acknowledge the guiding hand of God and His blessing on this great country.
It is true that pilgrims, pioneers and patriots have worked diligently and faithfully. Many of those same pilgrims, pioneers and patriots also spent time on their knees praying to the God who gave them strength and Who alone blessed their lives. When our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to establish our republic, they did so knowing they might give their very lives for this country they loved. They did so with hearts committed to doing what they did under the watchful eye and hand of the gracious God they served and upon Whom they depended to establish this new republic. That is more than clear in our founding documents!
For our president to talk about thanksgiving and list things we have to be thankful for on a National Day of Thanksgiving without one single reference to Almighty God is distressing to the max!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Truly Thankful Heart

Happy Thanksgiving!

Most history books say that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 when these colonists who arrived on the Mayflower broke bread with the local Native Americans - the Wampanoag Indians. The second Thanksgiving celebrated at Plymouth was in 1623. There is only one small problem: there is good evidence to suggest that the first Thanksgiving feast and celebration was actually at Berkley Plantation in Virginia in 1619.

But wherever or whenever isn't nearly so important as it is to have a thankful heart! And getting a truly thankful heart requires a healthy dose of humility. I (and you) need to come to the place where we know we cannot "do life" alone, that we need God's grace in great abundance. Then and only then are we ready to be truly thankful!

On Thanksgiving we actually celebrate our great God and King and all His wonderful, amazing grace poured out so lavishly! Do you have a thankful heart?

Monday, November 21, 2011

He Made Our Hearts to Seek Him as He Seeks Us!

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. ― C. S. Lewis

Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise; your power is immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning. And so we men, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you – we also carry our mortality about with us, carry the evidence of our sin and with it the proof that you thwart the proud. You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.
--Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus. --Blaise Pascal

Are you looking for hope and help for your heart - at the deepest core of your being - today?
O, you may be a believer in Jesus Christ and a follower of Him serving Him BUT there are still moments and days when there is that unquiet and vacuum and unsatisfied desire that should cast us on our knees in great thanksgiving that this world IS NOT our home - that we are just passing through and that someday Jesus will welcome us to our new home where there will be no more pain and sorrow and lonliness and NO darkness at all because He Himself will be our light and will light that new city! That's a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! That's a lot to focus on when the pain or sorrow or lonliness or darkness of this world closes in. He will push back the pain, sorrow, lonliness and darkness here too!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

REAL Test of a Thankful Heart!

My youngest sister Elizabeth posted this on her Facebook page today and it's right on or spot on as my brother says!

"I give God thanks for my quadriplegia. It has become the strange friend which helps me know Jesus better. It is the shadowy companion that walks with me daily, pulling and pushing me into the arms of the Savior where I find grace and comfort. Your affliction falls well within the overarching decrees of God. It comes from his wise and kind hand and for that, you can give thanks. In it and for it." -- Joni Eareckson Tada

It's one thing to thank God IN the middle of your suffering, but quite another to thank Him FOR the suffering itself. This is the challenge of having a really thankful heart! Can I (or you) be thankful FOR the suffering itself?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Living Faith from the Heart

When I was in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades my mother used to go to the orphanage in the next block from our church. We had a Chevy station wagon. It was in the days before seat belt laws. Mother would cram four of her own kids and twenty or so orphans in our car and drive us all out to our house on Pensacola Bay. We would swim, play games, have snacks and talk about Jesus. Then Mother would drive them all back to the orphanage. She didn't do this just once or twice. She planned these outings regularly. For some of these kids this was as special as it got!
Some of these orphans had terrible stories of how and why they ended up living in an orphanage. Over the years I sometimes wonder where they are and how life has turned out for them. I hope those afternoons on our beach are special memories for them just like they are for me!
Today is National Adopt an Orphan Day! Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, has written a great op ed piece in his blog today:
My mother really loved those kids and she showed them the love of Jesus! My mother loves Jesus so much that it used to embarrass me. But one thing I have never ever doubted: my mother loves Jesus and she wears her faith on her sleeve, in her heart and lives it out in amazing ways!

Listening with my Heart

Recently my sister-in-law spoke to me about my son's family and particularly my granddaughter who has Down Syndrome. She said, "Obviously she is so loved. You can just tell by how they care for her. She always looks so adorable. She's always included in the middle of everything because she is so special."
It is true! Vania has a hard time expressing herself. I have to listen carefully to "catch" her words. She is saying something significant when she speaks. She just has a different way of speaking. I have to listen with my heart as well as my ears.
It is also true that Vania is greatly loved! Her mother treats her like any other young teen and dresses her in the latest style. Her mother has loved her from before she was born and through all the challenging years in-between: multiple heart surgeries and all the accompanying challenges that come with special needs.
My son married her mother several years ago. He too loves Vania with a Daddy-heart and Vania knows it! She sits as close as she can to him and calls him "Daddy Dave"!
Vania calls me "her" and her Granddaddy "him" but she knows who we are and always gives her special hugs and smiles!
Vania's name is the Englishized rendition of the Hebrew word for "Gift of God." She is truly that - God's VERY special gift to our family!
God, thank you for sending me Vania to love and to love me! Help me to love her well!

Brokenness Lived Under Blessing!

Hope For The Broken Hearted
Many people don't think they are loved, or held safe, and so when suffering comes they see it as an affirmation of their worthlessness. The great question of ministry and the spiritual life is to learn to live our brokenness under the blessing and not the curse. Henri J. M. Nouwen

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mercy - Heart Deep!

Depth of mercy! Can there be mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear - me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood His grace, long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls, grieved Him by a thousand falls.
I have spilt His precious blood, trampled on the Son of God,
Filled with pangs unspeakable, I, who yet am not in hell!
I my Master have denied, I afresh have crucified,
And profaned His hallowed Name, put Him to an open shame.
Whence to me this waste of love? Ask my Advocate above!
See the cause in Jesus' face, now before the throne of grace.
Jesus, answer from above, is not all Thy nature love?
Wilt Thou not the wrong forget, permit me now to kiss Thy feet?
If I rightly read Thy heart, if Thou all compassion art,
Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow, pardon and accept me now.
Jesus speaks and pleads His blood! He disarms the wrath of God;
Now my Father's mercies move, justice lingers into love.
Kindled His relentings are, me He now delights to spare,
Cries, "How shall I give thee up?" Lets the lifted thunder drop.
Lo! I still walk on the ground: Lo! an Advocate is found:
"Hasten not to cut Him down, let this barren soul alone."
There for me the Savior stands, shows His wounds and spreads His hands.
God is love! I know, I feel; Jesus weeps and loves me still.
Pity from Thine eye let fall, by a look my soul recall;
Now the stone to flesh convert, cast a look, and break my heart.
Now incline me to repent, let me now my sins lament,
Now my foul revolt deplore, weep, believe, and sin no more. --Charles Wesley

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cure 4 Fainting Heart

My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine;
Now hear me while I pray, take all my sin away,
O let me from this day be wholly Thine!
May Thy rich grace impart strength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire;
As Thou hast died for me, O may my love to Thee
Pure, warm and changeless be - a living fire!
While life's dark maze I tread and griefs around me spread, be Thou my Guide;
Bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow's tears away,
Nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.
When ends life's transient dream, when death's cold sullen stream shall o'er me roll,
Blest Savior, then, in love, fear and distrust remove -
O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul. --Ray Palmer

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love is the only dynamic that brings about heart change.
--Tullian Tchividjian

Change my heart oh God, Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God, May I be like You!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Eye of the Heart

"Our whole business in this life is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen.” St. Augustine of Hippo

Battered Heart - Good Thing!

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

--John Donne

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Moi Speaks

Philosophical "truth" can come from surprising sources:

"Only time can heal your broken heart just as only time can heal his arms and legs"
- Miss Piggy

There won't be time in the world to come which must be one reason that there will not be broken hearts ever again nor will time be needed for healing arms and legs! O, what a day THAT will be!

Change My Heart, O God ...

Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God, may I be like You!
You are the Potter; I am the clay.
Mold me and make me. This is what I pray.
Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.
Change my heart, O god, may I be like You!
-- E. Espinosa, Vineyard Press

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Forgiveness Leaves NO Regret!

We will NEVER regret doing the hard and heart work of forgiveness.
--Scotty Ward Smith

Friday, November 11, 2011

God's Heart for Ministry

When God Owns the Ministry ...........

we all are on common ground.
the ministry can grow stronger because it's not built on me.
conflict can occur without getting ugly.
other people matter more.
my own feelings matter less.
worry isn't necessary, because it's not my job to be in control anyway.
people are included, whether or not we're BFFs, because I'm not central to what we do.I can share what we're doing freely with others because it's not mine anyway.
it's a good place to be.

Thanks, Shannon!

Taken from blog "The Works of God Displayed" by Shannon Dingle
Titled: When God Owns the Ministry

This is a great column by Dr. Jeff McNair, professor at California Baptist University and an expert on disability issues. I love his reference to the movie Babe! It's a fabulous analogy I wish I had thought of!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Opportunities and realities
Opportunities abound for the possibility of doing good. The question is will we see those opportunities, or be distracted by some comparative trivia, some historical reason for resisting change? The "we have always done it this way" as foolish as it sounds remains a powerful argument. We resist change because change moves us out of our current positions of comfort, or prestige, or simple thought processes. "If people with disabilities are suddenly worth my effort, what does that say about my lack of caring in the past?" Well, it says you were uncaring IN THE PAST. The real question is, will you be uncaring IN THE FUTURE?But courage is needed and I don't mean to demean that courage.

Take my favorite movie, for instance (although it is a bad comparison). The reason I love the movie Babe, is not because there are singing pigs and crazy ducks. It is the story of a man, Farmer Hoggett (I think), who saw something that no one else saw. A pig who could herd sheep. He then had the courage to enter the pig in a herding contest, to the laughter and demeaning of the crowd. At the end, the deriders are speechless as they finally see what he had seen. But it takes real courage to act on something that you see, when you know that most others don't see it. If the pig had not herded the sheep before the crowd, the farmer still would have been right, he just would have lost that particular opportunity to convince the crowd of what he had seen, of what he knew. He would have been ridiculed, but he would have been right.We are facing those kinds of opportunities today. We see something that I am hopeful we can help others to see. If we fail, that does not mean that our vision of a church that includes persons with disabilities is not a glimpse of reality. It means that we were simply unable to convince those who need to be convinced of the opportunities that lie before them, before us. I must also realize that I must be subservient to my Master, the Lord, who might be saying that the timing is not his timing. I must submit my will to his.
(Jeff McNair, blog Disabled Christianity, 10/28/2011)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Talk about Restoration!!!

This is what God's restoration of one heart at a time looks like in real life lived in the light of the Gospel! Tullian's story is the story of many ministry families without the same public visibility but this same formula is true over and over again in life and ministry when we live and walk as sons and daughters of the Most High God. Then truly Jesus + Nothing = Everything!

How can someone live without depending upon the approval of others?

This is something that we as sinful people will struggle with for the rest of our lives. None of us will ever come to a place where what people think about us (good or bad) doesn't matter to us at all. But a deep grasp of the gospel does help us to become less dependent on the approval of others because the gospel announces that all of the approval we long for and need, Christ has already secured for us. We no longer need to live under the slavish pressure of trying to earn the approval of others because Jesus has already earned God's approval for us.

In the book
[Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, recent author of Jesus + Nothing = Everything] I tell the story of how this became real to me.

With the merger of the church I planted and Coral Ridge back in 2009 and the leadership transition that accompanied it, a small but vocal group of long-time Coral Ridge members immediately began voicing opposition to practically any and every change we initiated. Blogs were posted, letters were circulated--some anonymously--with false accusations about me. Just three months after I arrived, a vigorous petition drive was started to get me removed. Battle lines were drawn, rumors raced. There was a crescendo of misunderstandings, frustration, and pain. Just three months in, I was ready to call it quits.

About that time, I opened up my Bible and in the reading plan I was following, it so happened that the day's passages included the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Colossians.

Desperate for help from God, I read those verses and my eyes were opened to see the incredible sufficiency of Jesus with greater clarity than I'd ever experienced. In my misery I told God that I wanted my old life back. The answer from God that I received from Colossians that morning was simple--but sobering: "It's not your old life you want back; it's your old idols you want back, and I love you too much to give them back to you."

You see, I never realized how dependent I'd become on human approval and acceptance until it was taken away. For the first time, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of being deeply disliked and distrusted. I was realizing just how much I'd been relying on the endorsement of others to validate me--to make me feel like I mattered. In and of itself, human approval and acceptance are not bad things. They are, in fact, a gift from God. But I had turned them into idols by making them my primary source of meaning and value and worth and significance, so that without them I was miserable and depressed.

The verses that set me free, specifically, were Colossians 1:9-14. In those verses the Apostle Paul says (my summary): You will grow in your understanding of God's will, be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding, increase in your knowledge of God, be strengthened with God's power which will produce joy filled patience and endurance (v.9-12a) as you come to a greater realization that you've already been qualified, delivered, transferred, redeemed, and forgiven (v.12b-14).

What those verses liberatingly taught me was that because of Jesus' finished work for me, I already had the justification, approval, acceptance, security, freedom, affection, cleansing, new beginning, righteousness, and rescue I was longing for. I started to see the many-faceted dimensions of the gospel in a more dazzling way. I was realizing in a fresh way the now-power of the gospel--that the gospel doesn't simply rescue us from the past and rescue us for the future. It also rescues us in the present from being enslaved to things like fear, insecurity, anger, self-reliance, bitterness, entitlement, and insignificance.

It was on that day that Jesus plus nothing equals everything became for me more than a preachable tagline. It became my functional lifeline!

It was rediscovering the gospel that enabled me to see that,
Because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak;
Because Jesus won for me, I was free to lose;
Because Jesus was Someone, I was free to be no one;
Because Jesus was extraordinary, I was free to be ordinary;
Because Jesus succeeded for me, I was free to fail.

-- Ed Stetzer's blog 11/08/2011, interview with Tullian Tchividjian

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Little Story in the Bigger Story

If you have rest of heart because you know your story has been embedded in the larger story of redemption, you know grace has visited you. --Paul David Tripp

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kim Kardashian's Heart

The "lives of the rich and famous" has taken on new meaning with the much publicized wedding and 72-days-later-divorce filing of Kim Kardashian.
She was interviewed by an Australian cable channel morning show today where she stated, "I just followed my heart (to file for divorce)."
Her "follow-up" in the discussion on TV includes that there is "no right or wrong" - that filing for divorce is just a matter of following her heart.
Well, I suppose she may be right in one sense BUT the pressing question that begs to be asked is: Well, what's the condition of your heart? How reliable and stable is it? Can you trust your heart to be your guide in matters of life and death?
God says, "The heart is deceitful ... and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) Following a deceitful and desperately wicked heart can only lead to more tragedy and darkness. All of of hearts lead us deeper into darkness without the light of the Gospel shining brightly into our hearts!
For all her riches and fame, I'd rather have the light of the Gospel shining brightly into all the crevices of my heart! Jesus and His Gospel are far more precious and lasting than all the riches and fame (or infamy) of a Kardashian!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reformation Fun

This is very light-hearted but fun for Reformation Day!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Heart Stress Test

Dear Lord ...
Forgive our fev'rish ways! ... Drop Thy still dews of quietness till all our strivings cease; Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered (structured) lives confess the beauty of Thy peace!

Jesus, guard my heart today from striving, strain and stress and help to show You to the watching world!

Wedding, Cracked Bottles and Patched Jeans

Children's Page for today at A Restoration Church, Pittsburgh

Weddings, Cracked Bottles and Patched Jeans Mark 2:18-22
18 The disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees made a practice of fasting. Some people confronted Jesus: "Why do the followers of John and the Pharisees take on the discipline of fasting, but your followers don't?"
19 Jesus said, "When you're celebrating a wedding, you don't skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time.”

20 No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!"

21 He went on, "No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match.

22 And you don't put your wine in cracked bottles."

The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus the King has come. His Kingdom is forever and He invites you and me to be part of His forever family. All we have to do is trust Him to save us from our sins! He does all the work! We just have to love Him first and best! That’s easy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hope for the Broken Hearted

Hope For The Broken Hearted
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecc might not see what he's doing now, but he is taking your heartache & pain and using it to make something incredibly beautiful.Someday it will be revealed & you will be in awe of the beauty he has made from the ashes!

This is beautiful and from my friend Debbie Kay of Hope for the Broken Hearted Ministry. Thanks, Debbie!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grace for the Heart

If your principal heart motivation is awe of God and not awe of you, you know that grace has visited you. --Paul Tripp

Food for My Heart!

He is capable beyond our imagination loving beyond our deserving faithful beyond our weakness & gracious beyond our limits!
--Jack Hayford

AWESOME! Lord, help me live in this truth today! I just ate breakfast. This is food for my heart!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Foundational Grace 4 Your Heart!

There are disastrous consequences of not having the heart established in grace.
-- C. H. Mackintosh, tweeted by Tullian Tchividjian

Monday, October 24, 2011

Heart Comfort

Oh, that I might comfort some of my Master’s servants. I have written out of my own heart with the view of comforting their hearts. I would say to them in their trials—My brethren, God is good. He will not forsake you: He will bear you through.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two-faced Heart

O spare us this rebuke today: "This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me."(Matthew 15:8). -- John Piper
How's it working out for you - the lip thing vs. the heart location? Certainly something to think about especially on the day of worship - the Lord's Day!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Hurt Heart

Your sadness may not be a sign of weak faith, but growing faith.
People who love well, in time, will hurt in the heart. --Scotty Smith

Friday, October 21, 2011

Loyal Heart!

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." --2 Chronicles 16:9a

God Always Meets Us Where We Are!

God watches and listens for the cries of the righteous. (2 Chron. 16:9a) God delivers the righteous from their pain and trouble - pain and trouble that come through His nail pierced hands. God is close to the broken hearted and saves those whose spirits are crushed. God always meets us where we are when we call to Him, regardless of our feelings.
-- adapted from When God Weeps, Joni Eareckson Tada

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Healing for My Heart!

It is to those that fear His name His healing power the Savior brings;
O, let us hide with contrite hearts beneath His healing wings.
Beneath those healing wings I rest, while all my heart with rapture sings:
The Son of Righteousness has risen with healing in His wings.
-- Albert B. Simpson, "To Those Who Fear Jehovah's Name"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heart Satisfaction

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless, satisfies my heart.
Satisfies its deepest longings, meets, supplies its ev'ry need.
Compasseth me round with blessings: Thine is love indeed!
-- Jean Sophia Pigott

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Steady Heart

My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.
-- Psalm 57:7, NIV

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Being Real Comes fom Deep in the Heart!

One of my favorite stories is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It's the fanciful tale of toys in a nursery talking and relating to each other. BUT it's so much more! It's a wonderful parable of life - particularly for a Christian. It's all about being REAL! What is more real than living to "look like Jesus" to the watching world? If that's not real, then it's not the real thing!

Here's my favorite section from The Velveteen Rabbit:

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.

Being real?! Yes, it does hurt! Sometimes it hurts a lot!
Being real?! Yes, sometimes I do mind - to be perfectly truthful - 'cause it hurts - sometimes it hurts a lot!
Being real?! Yes, it takes a long, long time!
Being real?! Yes, it's hard because it is risky! Being real isn't for the faint of heart! Being real truly isn't for people who break easily or who have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept!

Being real?! Yes, it's true - by the time you get to really be real, you - much like the skin horse - are old and bald in patches with seams showing and most of the hairs in your tail pulled out to string bead necklaces or something. You are also - most probably - loose in the joints and very shabby! It costs to be real!

But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. Well, that may be true in the nursery when Nana isn't around but in life it's a bit different:

In life it's hard for it not to matter when people don't understand!

In life it's hard to grow old and ugly and be misunderstood after all that!

In the story, the frisky little rabbit looks at the old, worn-out skin horse and blithely says, I suppose you are real? And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

In life it's hard to smile when others don't understand! Sometimes we have to ask God to draw a smile from deep in our hearts.

In the story the Skin Horse is real so he smiles and isn't sensitive at all. In life it's often a bit more complicated because being real in life is more than a story. It's a lifetime of living and loving and getting your hair loved off and getting loose in the joints and very shabby! In life it really costs to be real! AND it's hard not to be sensitive. It is also hard to smile sometimes but you know you are REAL if you can still smile and not be too sensitive!

The truth is that Jesus came because He is the most REAL anyone can ever be. He really, really "got all his hair loved off and loose in the joints and very shabby" as He literally put on our skin and moved into our neighborhood. (John 1:14, The Message) He calls those who bear His name to follow Him in the process of becoming real and being real in a world where real is very, very hard to find!

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Skipping Heart

Martin Luther wrote, "As long as we live there is never enough singing.”
I am neither a singer nor a dancer. Almost anyone is better at these two exercises than I am. That's just the way it is!
When I was in kindergarten I lived through the worse "academic" challenge of my career in learning and education. I have a "disability" and it was at screaming alert when I was 5.
Here's the deal: I am not very coordinated. Simply put, "grace" is NOT my middle name. Therefore I have never learned to skip - to dance with that hitched step and little bounce.
That's when the REAL trouble started! The teacher counted skipping at the top of "academic" achievement for kindergarten. So I was sunk!
I spent part of almost every day sitting on the steps to the upstairs in the teacher's house so I could contemplate my skipping and learn how to skip "better" or at all. It was a traumatic, terrible time!
I still can't skip all these many decades later! I'm okay with that! I'm also convinced that skipping (or not) can contribut absolutely NOTHING of relevance to my life! "To [skip] or not to [skip] is not the question." What really counts for time and eternity is not skipping! What counts is "faith expressing itself in love"! (Gal. 5:6) What counts is whether my heart can sing and dance AND skip as my faith expresses itself in love!
Lord Jesus, help me to live this day skipping, dancing and singing as I express my faith in love!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Pain - the GIFT Nobody Wants"!

Joni Eareckson Tada writes in her daily devotional today words that speak far more eloquently than I ever could. She speaks with practical and moral authority on the issue of pain. It has been the daily companion who has danced with her for over 40 years!

After more than four decades of permanent paralysis, I can attest that only a daily, hourly, even momentary placing of our throbbing into his strong hands can protect us from the crippling ravages of fear. There are countless "fear nots" in scripture, each one of them covering the whole spectrum of human experience. Every "fear not" can be embraced and impressed on our hearts and repeated in the presence of our adversary. Then we will press to our hearts this poem by Miss Margaret Clarkson, a woman who was bedridden for years with chronic pain...

Lord Jesus, King of pain, Thy subject I;
Thy right it is to reign:
Oh, hear my cry, and bid in me all longings cease;
Save for Thy holy will's increase.

Thy right it is to reign O'er all Thine own;
Then, if Thy love send pain, find there Thy throne,
And help me bear it unto Thee,
Who didst bear death and hell for me.

Lord Jesus, King of pain, my heart's adored,
Teach me eternal gain is love's reward:
In Thee I hide me; hold me still
Till pain work all Thy perfect will.[1]

When I struggle with pain, dear Lord, teach me to wait on Thee and remember the example of Jesus, the King of Pain.

Wherever the hours of this day may fall for you, seek Him who truly is the King of Pain! He will dance with you through all the hours and days and years of pain! He is the Partner Who never stops dancing and Who will carry you when your feet and heart can no longer keep dancing!

[1] E. Margaret Clarkson, "In Pain," Grace Grows Best in Winter, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI), pg. 54.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Go Ahead! It's Okay to Cry!

Where does your heart hurt today? How does your heart hurt today? Why does your heart hurt today?
Maybe you don't have answers to so many questions - especially so early in the day!
My heart hurt a few days ago. I was mad. I was sad. I was hurt. I don't cry but I cried as I sat at my computer and tried to answer a email that should ever have been sent. I sat at my computer trying to compose a response that didn't respond in kind. It took a long time of thinking and praying.
Now emails are not the BIG stuff! There's lots more to cry over in life. My question is: Why are we so scared to cry? Isn't the answer that we don't want to be weak or appear weak so we try to "stuff" the tears?
How about this crayoned note: Crying doesn't indicate that you're weak. Since birth it has been a sign that you're alive.
God values our tears. He says he counts every tear. He promises to wipe every tear away on the coming day of restoration! We won't have tear ducts in heaven. We won't need them.
BUT for here and now, we cry. AND our tears show we are alive! Our tears show that our hearts are alive! So, it's okay! It's okay to cry sometimes! Just don't stay stuck in "pity pot" mode! God counts and cares about each and every tear!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That "Someone Done Me Wrong" Song

Is there hope for a broken heart?

Are you singing the "someone done me wrong song" blues today? Perhaps you have received a blame-shifting apology from the offender .............. or a curt or stiff apology ............. or worse, an arrogant "walk-away." Because I've been there and done that, my guess is your heart is still broken and bruised and you don't even know what to do with all that.

A stiff apology is a second insult... The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
-- G. K. Chesterton

So you have a choice: nurse your brokenness and hurt until it eats you up from the inside out OR ask God to somehow work in that other heart to change him or her and bring real repentance and restorating grace to both your hearts!

Monday, October 10, 2011

He is the God of wholeness and restoration. ~ Stormie Omartian

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some Good Heart Advice for Preachers!

"Preach to broken hearts, for they sit in every pew" (or row of chairs!) CH Spurgeon via tweet by Scotty Smith

Hope you get to hear that kind of sermon today! Have a blessed day and spend some of it worshipping the One who loves you more than you will ever know. He cares about every pain and sorrow that has broken your heart!
"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful … that's what matters to me."
-- Steve Jobs, quoted in Wall Street Journal 1993
Steve Jobs certainly left a huge footprint on our culture in technological advances. He was a man of vision and principle apparently who marched ahead of his time, dreamed big dreams and knew how to put those dreams into production.
Steve Jobs was also a self-professed Buddhist. He had a paradigm for living - like the above quote - that is certainly note-worthy.
But what a tragedy that for all his contributions to our culture and the world at large, he didn't know Jesus!
Steve Jobs followed the road of life until that road came to a crossroad. He did (to use the words of Carl Sandburg) choose "the road less traveled by" but because he didn't choose Jesus he probably did his best work to count for this life and not for eternity.
Whether it's Steve Jobs or me doesn't matter when it comes to eternity. What matters is the affair of the heart that seeks Jesus and loves Him first and best! That's all that matters in the end!
Actually the richest man (or woman or child) in any cemetery is the one who loved and served Jesus!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Heart Motrivation

Our activities honor God only if they are done from hearts that glorify God above those activities.
--John Piper

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Heart's Ready to Forgive, Lord! Don't ask that of me!

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.
--Corrie Ten Boom

You and I can intentionally decide to forgive and still be struggling with what that needs to be and look like.
You and I can intentionally decide to forgive while we're still working through the pain and hurt.
You and I can intentionally decide to forgive even when we didn't deserve what happened and hate the consequences and the fall-out.

Corrie Ten Boom lived that principal out in a most challenging way when she met up - years after she was liberated from Ravensbrook Concentration Camp - with one of the sadistic Nazi guards from Ravensbrook. He came to hear her speak and then came to shake her hand after. She wasn't "ready" to forgive but by a determination of her will she found God's grace sufficient to allow her hand to reach out to grasp the hand of her former enemy who needed SO MUCH forgiveness! Her heart wasn't yet ready to forgive him; but her God was BIG ENOUGH to give her the grace to step out in faith to forgive!
That same grace is still alive and well and accessible for you and me!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Heart Trouble

Your sadness may not be a sign of weak faith, but growing faith. People who love well, in time, will hurt in the heart.
--Scotty Smith

Every time I swear I will guard my heart next time. But I can't help myself ... God calls me to love well and gives me the strength for Him to love a lonely, hurting world through my hands and feet. He gives strength when I am weak! He is the Balm of Gilead for my own hurting heart!
Once long ago when I was about three years old I sat at the dinner table at my grandmother's house. The adults were discussing my grandmother's recent diagnosis of "heart trouble." I listened intently and finally piped up, "Grandmother, don't you know the Bible says, 'Don't let your heart be troubled?' "
In the simplicity of my 3-year-old mind it seemed so simple and IT IS! "Don't let your heart be troubled! You believe in God; believe also in Me." (John 14:1)

Amazing Grace!

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found - was blind but now I see!
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved!
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!
--John Newton

Monday, October 3, 2011

Forgiving from the Heart

We live in a very broken world! We are irreparably damaged and broken! Some of us contain the damage so it's less obvious but no less real!
Part of that brokenness is the damage sinners do to one another. Sometimes that damage is irreversible and beyond repair!
The only response for a believer whose heart has been changed by the love of Jesus is forgiveness! That's tough - sometimes so painful as to be beyond bearing BUT no less encumbant upon our hearts per God's requirement.

Forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.
--Tim Keller

I'm preaching to my own heart here: When forgiveness is almost beyond bearing to grant, we must - if not for the sake of the one who has done such desperate damage - we MUST forgive for the sake of the One who died that we might be forgiven!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A "Gospel Heart"

I want to be stunned by the Gospel today heart-deep! Then - by God's grace - I want Him to make me "stunning" as I walk the "Gospel path" with Him before the watching world!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mercy Always Comes Running!

"So, what's your spiritual gift?"
We were in a ministry team strategy session with two new team members. Each one of us had taken a spiritual gifts inventory "test." Now we were sharing the results and planning for ministry together.
"Mercy, yes, mercy is my spiritual gift." The gift of mercy is on the Romans 12 list, verse 8.
What is the gift of mercy? What does it do?
One definition I found that is helpful to me:

Mercy: "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to feel genuine empathy and compassion for individuals (both Christian and non-Christian) who suffer from distressing physical, mental, or emotional problems, and to translate that compassion into cheerfully done deeds which reflect Christ’s love and alleviate the suffering."
This gift is a practical gift. Those with this gift find themselves visiting and assisting those in need, and often feel the pain of the person they are helping within themself. People with this gift find it extremely difficult not to help those who seem less fortunate than themself. Those with this gift generally enjoy helping those with physical or mental problems and do well in ministries involving visiting hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and shut-ins. ... Note: The gifts of Helps, Mercy, and Service are often confused. Helps focuses on Christian works and freeing others to accomplish their God-given ministries. Mercy focuses on people in distress and reflects God’s love and compassion. Service focuses on accomplishing little tasks that may otherwise go undone in order to move the greater goal of the ministry or church toward completion

Time passed. We continued together as a ministry team and I saw how this "mercy gift" worked. It was all about the person with the "gift"! It only worked in public venues so everyone noticed! It wasn't so much about getting under the load of another person's pain as it was about getting the details of that person's pain.

That was a long time ago. Over the years of continuing ministry I have contemplated the gift of mercy. John and I are "neck deep" in church planting ( with a special heart for families and individuals with special needs. That - more often than not - gets us almost over our heads in the deep waters of loving and serving others. It means a lot of "mercy-comes-running" ministry!

"Mercy-comes-running" ministry doesn't happen on a convenient schedule.
"Mercy-comes-running" ministry is messy!
"Mercy-comes-running" ministry is exhausting and breaks our hearts!
"Mercy-comes-running" ministry is a heaven-sent privilege to participate in the pain of others - mostly behind the scenes, unheralded.
"Mercy-comes-running" ministry is that often secret and frequently seemingly impossible mission Jesus modeled so well and calls us to join Him in being and doing.

I love Pastor Tullian's phrase, "Mercy comes running!" Mercy DOES come running! That's what Jesus did! That's what He calls us to do! That's who He calls us to be - little mercy-givers who come running!

Lord Jesus, help me to be "mercy-comes-running" in skin today for You!

*title "borrowed" from Pastor Tullian Tchividjian's blogpost on 9/26/2011.
(1) from Gifted2Serve and