Monday, February 14, 2011

Broken, needs fixed!

Life isn't the way God meant it to be but it is what it is - broken!
It's what we do with the broken pieces that makes the difference! The best plan is to give them to God and let Him put the broken pieces back together again!
Jesus promises to make all things new - that includes broken bodies, broken plans, broken hearts and all the other broken things of life!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Heart for Hugs!

Do you like hugs? Almost everybody does - even tho' what feels like a hug might not look exactly like a squeeze around the ribs. Hugs come in other forms, you know - God's hugs especially! God's hugs sometimes come in the form of a needed parking spot or a narrowly missed traffic mishap or even ALMOST burned toast among a million other forms of a hug from God. Then again God's hugs may be huge "rib squeezing" hugs like peace in the midst of pain or blessing like Psalm 23 describes as oil poured on our head and then dripping down onto shoulders and arms and down to drip from our fingertips (blessing beyond measure!)
My mother used to pray about EVERYTHING - to the point it often embarrassed me! She prayed for parking places, phone calls, skinned knees and a million other things. She also rose early every day as a lifetime habit to pray in the quiet of the dawn through her "prayer notebook" where she listed prayer requests by the page. She even has a collection of these prayer journals (if she hasn't burned them) because she has filled many, many notebooks with the stuff of life for many people and over which she faithfully prayed. Not so much anymore as her mind has become more and more scattered in this her 90th year tho' she still sits with her prayer notebook on her knee.
Here's what I don't get: Why does God give me the parking spot I need and allow a tree to fall on the house of my friend at 5 PM on the same day my friend's husband died at 5 AM? (Believe it or not, my friend's response that day was, "O, I'm so glad Curt wasn't here when the tree fell. I'm so glad he had already slipped away from his terrible pain to a better place to live forever in the presence of the God he loved." What a woman!)
Just don't get confused by parking spots and falling trees and death and all the other stuff of life. The truth is: "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He takes great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He rejoices over you with singing!" (Zephaniah 3:17)
The fact that God gives you a "custom-designed-just-for-you" blessing one day and the stomach flu the next DOES NOT mean He loves you the first day and not so much the next. God's song is still playing strong and true when you park your car or pull your toast from the oven and when you have the stomach flu or a tree on your house or a husband gone to heaven.
God's song over us dances unseen (and often unheard) all around us and invites us to find Him. He wants us to hear His song!
AND God wants us to do more than listen to Him sing. He wants us to hear His song with our hearts so we can follow Him in singing and hugging all the people He brings along our path every day! He wants us to live in tune with Him and to reach out with a heart-generated-hug and song to others living in silence and solitude longing for a song and a hug!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

For My Fearful Heart!

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God!
--Corrie Ten Boom

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Doubting Heart

It was a disaster! I blew it royally! I was discouraged and ashamed! Things went from bad to worse - not at all like I hoped or intended. SO I spent hours and days stewing in the pot of doubt and discouragement and fear.

So, what is doubt - especially self doubt? Well, it just might be a sick twist on humility. While it hides behind the mask of self-assessment, it takes me far down paths that lead me to brambles and briars rather than walking a pre-planned path hand-in-hand with Jesus.

Self doubt paralyzes. It's the stone filled pack slung over my shoulder and breaking my back as I try to drag myself along under the crushing load. The only remedy to the burden of self-doubt is to "unpack" it:

  • Is my doubt valid? Maybe I lack skills or knowledge or training or time or even the willingness to let others help me. Is my doubt there because my eyes are so focused inward making myself the focus of my world when God wants my eyes to focus upward on Him? Here is the first glimmer of that sick twist on humility which isn't humility at all!
  • Is my doubt the result of "old" tapes - mental CDs or DVDs - playing in my head? It's the Enemy's favorite trick in his bag - oppressing us so heavily with the past that we are unable to move into the future with confidence. Am I like a little girl twirling in my beautiful crimson silk dress desperately wanting someone to tell me how beautiful and graceful I am? Do we keep twirling and twirling around wanting someone somewhere to say the words we long to hear to boost our need for acceptance and affirmation? Here's another glimmer of pride, for sure!
  • Is my doubt a nudge from God? Does He want to work deeply into some of the crevices in my heart? Does He want to replace the faux of self-absorption with the truth of Sonship, forgiveness, grace and love?
  • Is my doubt an attack from the Enemy who wants nothing more than to steal, to take away and to wound my heart (as Scripture says in John 10:10) so deeply that he colossally neutralizes my ability to serve Jesus? Is this enemy able to get me/us to focus so intently on the things we didn't do "right" or well, at least in our eyes, that we are blind to the good God can do in and thru us even in failure to bring honor to His name and further His Kingdom on earth?
  • Is my doubt a call from God to take an honest look at the incident that I thought was going to cause the world to end and find that - in reality - it is only a small pebble on my path - a learning experience (intentionally sent by my loving heavenly Father) to push and challenge me - an opportunity to show God's character growing in me in living technicolor before the watching world!

Self-doubt can be either riddle us in all kinds of destructive ways and consume our thoughts OR it can be an avenue to honestly assess why it's there and what we can do about it—with God's help! God can and will turn the false humility of self-doubt in all its sick, twist "glory" into a new focus of depending on Jesus to be all I ever need! God can take doubting hearts - like mine and yours - and turn each one into productive laboratories for His amazing grace! That's the heart of the Gospel! It's what the watching world so desperately longs to see!

Doubt replaced with Kingdom-focused action is what the world needs now! It's what God longs to do in doubting hearts like mine (and yours!)!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Heart Attack"!

Yesterday when I got to my car after school I looked at the screen on my cell phone and saw that I missed a number of calls. When I checked them I found they were all from the same person - my friend Elizabeth. Then I talked to John and found that she called him, too, and that he talked to her. She was very sad and upset.
She came over last night. She needed hugs and someone to care and listen. Yesterday was the two year anniversary of her mother's death. For 21 years her mother was the only person in her world and now she is gone. A few months before her mother died, Elizabeth's dear Siberian husky Timber also died.
Yesterday AM she got a call from her homeless, addicted, dysfunctional father who called her "selfish" because he was cold and on the street.
She is living with her grandparents who don't want her to see or have any relationship to anyone else. She is 23 and lonely, scared and hurting! In short she is having a huge "heart attack"!
As she sat talking to us last night she finally said, "You know, God seems so far away. So much sad and bad has happened to me. I'm afraid my life is over that I will never have friends or a family - someone to love me. I'm so lonely!"
We told her there is a cure for "heart attacks" like hers - Jesus - and that He is the ONLY One who can make a difference in her very hard, very sad circumstances.
Like so many others who suffer "heart attacks" of the same kind, she needs her heart restored as only Jesus can!
Who do you know having a silent "heart attack" who needs God's and your intensive care?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

State of Mind or State of Heart?

My mother has dementia. She is slipping away from us slowly. Due to circumstances in my life I cannot go for a visit until the first week of March. I pray, wonder and desperately hope that SHE will still be - tho' diminished - there when I go. She slips away more with every passing day.

A dear friend - whose mother died a long slow death with Alzheimer's - emailed me this AM: "We are not our minds - or even the sum total of our minds and bodies. But as Mother became worse and worse, I wondered where 'she' was - her real self. I knew she was not lost to God, and I used to pray that the further she went from us, the closer she'd be to God. But I still wanted to KNOW. Watching her decline seemed like looking through the dirty glass of a door that became more and more cloudy as she moved further and further away. So, it became a factor both of distance and of opacity. And the door I was seeing in my mind was like one of those hospital doors with a window, but beyond which only certain people - like patients - can go or be taken. I would imagine pressing my face to the glass and trying to make out something of her shape. Or her smile. But it was all dissolving into fog without substance. ... Cancer and Alzheimer's seem to me to be as good a parable of what sin has done in this world as anything."

She's right! Sin broke us all. Sin breaks our minds. Sin breaks our hearts. Sin breaks the heart of God as He sees our broken world. That's EXACTLY the reason Jesus promises to eventually renew and restore ALL things! It's not over yet and the inbetween is both real and heart-breaking but there is HOPE in what we cannot see. THAT hope is real and certain when we know Jesus! That hope comes from a state of heart - NOT a state of mind!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Yearning to be Free"

Have you watched the news from Egypt the last few days? It's all pretty scary! This morning I watched thousands - maybe hundreds of thousands of people carry signs, yelling and generally expressing their extreme displeasure with the government of Hosni Mubarak.

These images from Egypt aren't far away and irrelevant to our life here. Have you filled your car with gas recently? Well, the sticker price for gas continues to climb. For that reason alone the stability of Egypt has significance for all of us who put gas in our cars. 2,000,000 barrels of oil travel through the Suez Canal every day. Instability in Egypt just might dramatically impact the price of gas in Pennsylvania or wherever you live.

What's the deal with all these screaming, rioting people in Egypt? Are they just "crazy Arabs"? In her poem - "The New Colossus" - Emma Lazarus talks about the "... masses yearning to be free ..." That's the deal in Egypt. It's the "yearning to be free"!

The "yearning to be free" is built into the heart of every man, woman and child who has lived, who lives and who will live. It's a part of being created in the image of God. God created us to be free. Jesus said, "You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free." He said, "I am the Truth ..." Blase Pascal - the French physicist of 2 centuries ago - said that we all have a God shaped vacuum in our hearts. It's that very God shaped vacuum that causes the "yearning to be free" because we only find true freedom in Jesus. He alone satisfies the yearning of the heart to be free!

Tyranny can only clamp the lid on freedom for so long and then the "yearning to be free" bubbles to the surface, sometimes at the boiling point as we see on our TV screens streaming live from Egypt.

This "yearning to be free" is ultimately a heart issue. God put into our very DNA this "yearning to be free" that also paradoxically is only fully fulfilled when Jesus the Truth sets us free to be all that God created us to be. That's the Gospel! That's the Truth! And that's the truth!