Sunday, March 28, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10)
Now there there are two ways in which these words perfectly speak to my doubt.
1. God has asked me to write. Not just in this blog...although in a way I think this is part of the bigger plan as well. But to write about my convictions regarding the state of the family in today's world and how we (as Christians) might go about changing it. These words from Ephesians are an encouragement that the work set before me (to write about the family) is indeed God's work prepared beforehand so that I would walk in them. Now to figure out what 'walk in them' means?
2. Kim also passed along a commentary regarding this scripture:
"The word translated 'workmanship,' poiema, indicates that we are His poem, His masterpiece. Each of our lives is the canvas on which the Master is producing a work of art that will fill the everlasting ages with His praise." It is God who created us and takes responsibility for our lives; therefore as His child, we can trust Him to lead us.Kim sent this to me because she knows I am struggling to learn what it means to whole heartedly trust the Lord. Because I am His child; because I am like a work of art - a poem delicately composed and intricately arranged - I can know He created me with passion and an investment of time. I was not an afterthought, a hurriedly scribbled down mess of notes, or something thrown together in the last hour. I am a masterpiece. His greatest work. How can I not trust Him to take care of the workmanship of His very own hands?
What Kim didn't know is that I'm sitting here trying to put together my journey of trust with my new-found mission to write about the state of the family. And this commentary put it together. I am learning to trust God and I am writing about it in this blog. Maybe my writing assignment (on the family) is to be permanent reminder of how God lead and guided me through the process. Maybe the completion of this 'good work' will be a testimony to how I learned to trust God and really believe His words apply to me. Maybe it will only be a means to make me an 'exact man' (quote from Sir Francis Bacon: Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man). But it is my desire that somehow, someway, it would also bring glory to God and others closer to Him.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Anyway, a few weeks ago we were listening to the fifth book in the series called The Dawn Treader. This story tells of a ship of the same name and the adventures of the crew - one of whom is a 'beastly' little boy named Eustace. Along the way Eustace falls into some magic that turns him into a dragon, and spends the greater part of the book trying to figure out how be 'undone'.
This is where Eustace and I intersect. Earlier in the year, I shared my experience at a retreat that urged me to remove the 'mask' that I wear around most of the people in my life. The short of the story is that I was/am afraid to totally trust God not only to take it off, but to live without it. In The Dawn Treader, Eustace experiences the removal of his dragon 'mask' by the very hand of God. I so wish I could just put an .mp3 file here with the audio content...but since I can't I'll type it out for you.
...the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said anywords out loud or not.
"I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, though I, that's what the lion mean. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully...In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.
"But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they just were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before....So I scratched and tore again and this under skin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.
"Well, exactly the same thing happened again (and again)...Then the lion said...'You will have to let me undress you.' I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
"The very first tear that He made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off...
"Well he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the other had been..."
There you go. I may try to remove the mask myself, and it may even seem like I've achieved some success at it, but the real mask is still underneath. God himself will have to remove it. And it will hurt - a lot. It will pierce the very heart of my grip on it. But the beastly stuff will lay there on the grass some day. Looking thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking that anything I was able to scratch off.
I was nearly in tears driving down the road that day. My children had no idea, but my Father knew the very reason why I was crying. He had touched my heart.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
So last week I wrote that God was talking to me, going before me and guiding me. But what I realized is that I haven’t shared much of that movement. I’m here today to start filling in the gaps.
Last May I read the book, The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. I really enjoyed it, but for some spontaneous reason last week, I got the feeling that I never really finished reading it and I should do so now. I flipped the book open near the end and landed in chapter 14 – Verbs and other Freedoms. The subtitle of this chapter is, “God is a Verb.” He started moving.
The main character, Mack, is conversing with God and asking questions such as, “How come I am not able to tell when you’re around?” God answers, “For you to know or not has nothing at all to do with whether I am actually here or not….You will learn to hear my thoughts in yours…you will better begin to recognize my voice as we continue to grow our relationship” (p196). These are the words I needed to hear. He was talking to me. He was talking to me.
A few pages later, Mack asks another question. “Why do you love me, when I have nothing to offer you?” (p200). And here comes the beginning of “God is a Verb.”
“It should be very freeing to know that you can offer us (the Triune God) nothing, at least not anything that can add or take away from who we are…That should alleviate any pressure to perform.”
This conversation pursues Mack’s concern over what God expects of him after his encounter with God in the The Shack is over, and God rebukes Mack with these words, “when I hear language abused in favor of rules over sharing life with us, it is difficult for me to remain silent.” The abuse was the word ‘expectations.’ Mack was being admonished because he was looking for rules to live by ( God’s expectations) and not reveling in the freedom of living in Christ. God continues…
“Those who are afraid of freedom are those who cannot trust us to live in them. Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control.”
Trust. There it was again. My trust issues (even with God) were being exposed as issues of false expectations and the desire to follow rules. In the margin of the book I wrote, “kind of like social expectations and my need for an orderly house.”
The conversation continued. “Enforcing rules, especially in its more subtle expression like responsibility and expectation, are a vain attempt to create certainty out of uncertainty….I will take a verb over a noun anytime.”
Huh? What do verbs and nouns have to do with all of this? Well, if you look at the word expectation (a noun) and turn it into a verb it becomes expectancy. If you look at responsibility (a noun) and turn it into a verb, it becomes to respond. God is a verb. He is, He was, and He always will be. God is the great I AM. Nouns, on the other hand, “exist because there is a created universe and physical reality, but if the universe is only a mass of nouns, it is dead. Unless I AM [really is], there are no verbs, and verbs are what makes the universe alive” (p204).
God is asking me to live by expectancy (the verb) and not live by striving to meet expectations (the noun). He is asking me to respond to His love; to live in freedom (to live under grace). He is not asking me to live under the yoke of responsibility (the law…which sometimes I even expand upon and create new laws in my own house!). Can I live in that kind of freedom? Can I trust Him to go before me, and to guide me in expectancy and response? Can I trust Him to go before me and guide me in removing this protective ‘steel door’ mask that I’ve been hiding under for so many years? I have to. For “the degree that [I] resort to expectations and responsibilities, to that degree [I] neither know [God] or trust [Him]. And to that degree…[I] live in fear.” (p206). I don’t want to live in fear. I want to trust. Lord help me trust.
Friday, March 12, 2010
With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed.
In you might, you guide them in your sacred home.
I prayed, "Lord, lead me. Guide me. Let me hold on to your hand." And He replied, "Child, you are already in both of my hands."
I was learning to trust.
So today in my one-year Bible I'm in the book of Deuteronomy (1:31-33). Moses is making his final speech to the people of Israel before they take over the promised land:
You saw how the Lord you God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place. But even after all he did, you refused to trust the Lord your God, who goes before you...guiding you..."
It struck me. After all he is showing me - all these blog posting proving that He is talking to me, going before me and guiding me - will I be like the Israelites? Will I still be unable, or should I say unwilling, to trust the Lord my God?
I know trust is my issue. Lord, I believe you go before me and guide me. Help my unbelief.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I am musing through a sermon given a few weeks ago. Pastor Todd spoke about how our addictions, when added to our habits become loves, becoming idols. And in another direction, our addictions, plus our habits, form our character, form our destiny, form our eternity. My head is still spinning on this one. More thought to come...
In the mean time, I thought I would share a few fruits of my addiction to photography when added to my habit of spending vast amounts of time with my four precious children. Enjoy!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The God who sent His Son to save,
From guilt and darkness and the grave,
Be gracious to you and bless you
And cause His face to shine upon you -Psalm 67:1