“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Monday, May 31, 2010

In Memory of SFC Richard Henkes II
KIA September 3, 2006 in Mosul, Iraq


In Memory of SFC Richard Henkes II

On September 3, 2006 my dear friend, Tamara Henkes, lost her brother Rich. 
On September 11, 2006 I attended my first military memorial.  On that day, Memorial Day became personal to me. 

This weekend Tamara headed to Washington, DC to attend the16th Annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors.  TAPS is the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.  She has been keeping us updated via Facebook.  Reminding us to remember.  And so we remember SFC Richard Henkes II... and we remember his loved ones.

My dearest Tamara, I am so sorry for the loss of your brother Richard.  I thank God for his service to The United States of America.  I thank you and your family for the sacrifice that you have given.  I pray that God will bring you comfort and peace as you reflect on Richard's life.  I love you.

Originally Posted Monday, May 25, 2009
In Honor of Richard J. Henkes, II:
"The Forgotten Mourners"


My dear friend, Tamara Henkes,
lost her brother on Sunday, September 3rd of 2006.




Richard J. Henkes, II, died in Mosul, Iraq
serving his country with pride.



"He loved what he was doing,
and he was very, very good at what he did.
It's what he knew and believed in."



"He believed in serving his country and
doing something
that would have a positive effect.
He believed he was doing something
for the greater good."


"...Always the jokester...
But be could also be very quiet.
He was very serious about what he was doing for a living.
He was a very caring and compassionate person."


Rich was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.


"Rich always knew he wanted to be a soldier and believed in the mission in Iraq."


Rich grew up in Oregon and graduated from Clackamas High School in 1992 where he wrestled, ran track and was involved in band. He enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately after graduation.


Gwen Kalvelage, a friend of the Henkes family, visited this memorial in Salem, Oregon.
She granted me permission to use these photos.


Often, siblings are "the forgotten mourners."
Their grief often pushed to the side or discounted in preference to parents, spouses or children.


My small gesture... to comfort my friend,
to honor her brother... and to never forget the sacrifice made by our military.


Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life
for his friends. John 15:13 KJV

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Withdrawal Is Not An Option

 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 2 Corinthians 13:12
Ethiopia, photography by Anthony

I was hurt, but I didn't want to gossip, so I let my feelings swirl around in my head.  I convinced myself that she was no longer a safe person for me.  And this was it... I was going to protect myself by withdrawing from the relationship.

But the Lord said no.  I was prompted to write an e-mail.  Lay it on the line.  Not to be harsh, but to be honest.  Withdrawal was not an option.

And so I waited.  Waited for her to respond.  And I thought... she wasn't even responding fast enough for me.

I finally decided to share what had been going on with Anthony.  Surely, he would hear my pain and agree with me, console me.  But he didn't.  He saw right through me.  And questioned why I was assuming the worst.  

Later that day she called... and having heeded Anthony's words, I listened with an open heart.  She explained and I listened.  She apologized and I apologized.  It was a misunderstanding.  A miscommunication that I had let fester in my brain.

But then I heard her hurt... as she wondered why I was uncertain of the fact that she loved me... would never hurt me intentionally... that all of her thoughts and actions towards me were good...  And I was speechless. What had happened? 

As we spoke more we realized that we hadn't been investing as much time in our relationship.  We had neglected it.  Through busyness we justified our distance.  And now we were paying the price.

And it made me think of my relationship with the Lord... and the times when I wonder... Where is He?  Why is He allowing this to happen?  Doesn't He care about me?

I find that when I am pressing deep into Him... I don't question His love for me.  I know it.  It is fresh off the pages of the Bible.  He is for me.

When I start to wonder about God's goodness and intentions, it doesn't take long for me to realize that I have neglected my time with Him.  When I am keeping my thoughts to myself and not bringing them to the light... I sink even deeper.

Gracious.  Thankfully, she was gracious with me.  That day I learned how to handle a situation like this graciously.  Thanks to her.  Thanks to the Lord for prompting me... to not give up on the relationship.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? 
If God is for us, who can be against us? 
He who did not spare his own Son, 
but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, 
along with him, graciously give us all things? 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 
   
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-32; 35; 38-39

And so I will remind myself... when I would want to withdraw... or give up on my relationship with Him... that He is for me... that even when I feel like He is not safe... I will bypass my feelings... and stick my head into His Word... and know that nothing can separate me from His love.

Withdrawal is not an option.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Be The Branch.

 ...he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear...
Ethiopia 2010 - photography by Anthony 

"I know God said He wouldn't give me more than I could bear... I just wish He didn't trust me so much."

And here's the thing... He doesn't.  He doesn't trust you so much.  He trusts Himself. 

No test or temptation that comes your way 
is beyond the course of what others have had to face. 
All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; 
he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; 
he'll always be there to help you come through it. 
1 Corinthians 10:13 The Message

Often we pray that we want to know God better.  Or that we want to be more Christ-like.  And then we are surprised when life suddenly becomes hard... or harder.

Through scripture, we see that God chooses to allow those who love Him and believe in Him to be tested and tempted.  He is not counting on you to bear it by yourself.  To do it on your own.  He is all about bringing you to a place where you think you cannot bear it on your own... so that you will see Him help you come through it.

I don't think God wanted us to concentrate on the phrase, "he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.I think He wanted us to focus on the words, "God will never let you down... he'll always be there."

 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me...

"God wants to chain me down... put a yoke on me."

Nope.  He is saying... as opposed to doing it on your own.  If you take on His yoke... He is going to carry the weight.  He is doing the hard work.  You get to walk along and work with Him and watch how He does it.

 "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? 
Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. 
I'll show you how to take a real rest. 
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. 
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 
Keep company with me and 
you'll learn to live freely and lightly." 
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

How do we do this?  How do we walk with Him?  Work with Him?  Watch how He does it?

Read the Bible.  Pray.  Do a Bible Study.  Go to church.  Find a godly mentor.  Spend time in God's beauty.  Journal your thoughts.  Read a book by a Christian author.  Listen to praise music... remain in Him.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. 
If a man remains in me and I in him, 
he will bear much fruit; 
apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5

YOU = the branch.  Not the vine.  That's His job.  If you are trying to be a branch without the vine... well, that is just not going to work out, is it?  The branch is nourished and strengthened and able to live ONLY dependent on the vine.  And that is how He knows that you will be able to bear it... because you are dependent upon the vine.  Dependent upon Him.

So today when you are facing a temptation or a trial that you think is beyond what you can bear... remember that you are not alone.  You do not need to carry the load on your own.  Stop trying to be the vine.

Be the branch.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"The Leaking Window" Whines About A Blocked Drainspout

Ethiopia, April 2010
photography by Anthony

I was thinking I should sell my house today.  It was raining pretty hard and one of the gutters was overflowing.  It was cold and wet outside and I thought... if only I sold this house and had another... then I wouldn't have this problem.  I wouldn't have to see or deal with this overflowing gutter.

I wasn't positive that was the solution, so I asked Anthony about it... hoping he would fix it for me.  He couldn't take the time to fix it for me because he was working.  He thought perhaps their was a blockage at the drainspout.  He gave me some great advice... find the downspout and clear out the blockage.  But it was cold and wet... and even hailing, so I thought perhaps when it is not so wet... I will go take a look.

Within minutes the clouds parted... the gutters were not overflowing anymore... and I kindof forgot about it... and I was sooo happy that I didn't have to decide whether to sell the house or find the yucky blocked downspout.

But here's the thing... the next time it rains... that blocked downspout is going to cause overflowing gutters, again.  And I will go through the same thinking... should I just get rid of this house or perhaps wish I had cleaned out that drainspout. 

And as I begin to think about it... it is really expensive to sell and buy a home... and there is all that packing involved... and Christopher would miss his neighborhood friends... and what about my beautiful garden... and the truth be told... the next house would end up (like every other home in Portland) having blocked drainspouts.  And would I want to sell the next house... no, not really.

However, the idea of cleaning the drainspout sounds yucky and cold.  I sure wish someone else would fix it for me.  But the problem there is... I don't know when that would be.  And I might have to start nagging about someone else fixing a problem that I could fix myself.

So, in the warmth of the sun, I decided to take a stroll in the backyard.  Looked in the gutter.  Yup, it is still blocked.  Looked for the downspout.  It was within easy reach... but I had to steady myself to get to it.  Saw there was a yucky mess... decided to stick my hand in and move the mess... and to my delight... the water started to flow down the downspout.  And flow.  And flow.  And flow.  And it was actually a pretty neat sight to behold... and pleasing to listen to... And the satisfaction... that I did it myself.

I haven't had the chance to tell Anthony yet that I did it.  He's still working.  But I have to tell you that doing it myself gave me a little boost of confidence if something like this happens, again.  I know if it is a downspout I can't reach on my own that I will need to ask someone to help me... but I am relieved to now know that I don't have to sell my house.

Seem like a silly story?  It's true... okay, well... I really wasn't thinking about selling the house.  But it has made me wonder... what trouble or hardship or trial or suffering in my life is causing me to think that I just have to do something more drastic than is warranted so I don't have to deal with it?  What problem have I determined to be one that I wish someone else would fix for me... when I could easily fix it myself... even though I might have to do a little hard work?  What difficulty... if I only might ask for a little expert advice and get a different perspective... might be taken care of within moments of taking that advice?  And I wonder if I had waited until the next time my problem flared up... I would have found that it caused additional damage which could have been averted had I taken care of it sooner?

Often in the midst of our difficulty we lose perspective... and think that the radical answer will solve the problem.  But that is only true for the moment.  Because if we count the entire cost, we will find out we have only delayed solving the problem... and have perhaps added more complications in the long run.

Food being generously poured out into containers for the poorest of poor.

And here is where we turn to the Lord and ask for wisdom and guidance.  Trusting and obeying Him.  In all areas of our lives whether it be a blocked drainspout... or a lousy marriage... or a broken relationship... or... well, fill in the blank.  And God will be there for you...

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise 
even when we're hemmed in with troubles, 
because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 
In alert expectancy such as this, 
we're never left feeling shortchanged. 
Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers 
to hold everything God generously pours into our lives 
through the Holy Spirit!  Romans 8:3-5 The Message

I am praying for you, dear sister.  Never forget that... In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I [Jesus] have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One of The Greatest Tragedies Among God's People...


"Watch To See Where God Is Working And Join Him!" ~ Henry Blackaby

Ethiopia April 2010
photography by Anthony

Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work 
to this very day, and I, too, am working."  

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, 
the Son can do nothing by himself; 
he can do only what he sees his Father doing, 
because whatever the Father does the Son also does.   
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. 
Yes, to your amazement 
he will show him even greater things than these.
John 5:17, 19-20 

God Is Always At Work Around You
"Right now God is working all around you, as well as in your life.  One of the greatest tragedies among God's people is that, although they deeply long to experience God, they are encountering Him day after day but do not recognize Him.  By the end of this course, you will have learned many ways to clearly identify God's activity in and around your life.  The Holy Spirit and God's word will instruct you and will help you know when and where God is working.  Once you know where He is active, you will adjust your life to join Him in His activity." ~ Excerpt from Experiencing God
I had been struggling with offering "Experiencing God" as a summer Bible Study.  Although the study is life-changing (I know this because I have done it twice), it is intense... and not what many would consider as a "summer" study.   It was a Sunday afternoon about two weeks ago when I asked God for yet another confirmation.  Looking at the tweleve weeks of study and over 260 pages of homework... I thought perhaps God might change His mind.

That evening Anthony and eight others would give testimonies about their recent trip to Ethiopia.  The stories were mind-boggling.  Almost unbelievable... and yet knowing God and knowing these saints... the stories were true... and a longing to have God work in our midst began to stir.

And the night was almost over.  It was one of those nights that you don't want to end... and I was so grateful I could ask Anthony more about the stories on the way home.  But then it happened... the words were said something like, "We just joined God where He was working."  And my heart about stopped... as I knew exactly where those words could be found.  And as if it wasn't enough, our pastor closed out the evening reminding us where those words could be found.  And my heart began to beat, again... and tears filled my eyes... as he said that those words came from a life-changing Bible Study called "Experiencing God."

And so, as I experienced God that evening... I went ahead with my preparations for my summer study.  Warning all those who dare to join me...  If you don't want your life to be changed, then don't take this study!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 10
Experiencing God


"I am the vine; you are the branches. 
If a man remains in me and I in him, 
he will bear much fruit; 
apart from me you can do nothing."  
John 15:5

Honestly... I haven't memorized verse 9 yet... but here I am with verse 10.  I am going to give myself grace... because that is what I would offer to anyone else.  I have come to realize that part of the practice of memorizing scripture is becoming more familiar with the location of verses and meditating on the meaning of the verses... so even when I don't memorize a verse completely... I am still benefiting from the practice.

I have selected my current memory verse from my upcoming summer Bible Study Experiencing God by Henry & Richard Blackaby with Claude King.  It is going to be a great follow-up to One In A Million by Priscilla Shirer.
In our walks with the Lord, we too will discover moments when a season of camping out in the foothills of Sinai ends and we are compelled to take what we've gathered and move forward.  When our souls begin to stir and the Holy Spirit begins gently nudging us to turn, set a new journey, and go, we can know that God is moving us to a new place in or relationship with Him. ~ Priscilla Shirer, One In A Million
I have felt compelled to ask the precious sisters in my life to join me as I study Experiencing God.  If you would like to join us as we turn, set a new journey, and go... here's the details:
  • You can pick up the Member Workbook for $15 at the new Lifeway Store on Cedar Hills Boulevard.  (Make sure you get the Experiencing God Member Workbook.  There are many books that use the same title.)
  • The first meeting will be on Tuesday, June 1st, at my home from 9:30-11:30am.  
  • The study has twelve weeks worth of homework.  
  • During the first meeting we will discuss any dates that may need to be adjusted due to summer vacations.  But for the most part... we're on for every Tuesday in the summer.
  • You should have week one complete for the first meeting.  
  • We will be discussing the homework.  
  • Feel free to come with or without your homework completed.  
  • There will not be a DVD used for this study. 
  • I do not provide childcare... although your well-behaved children can hang out with us under your supervision.  If we are able to find reliable childcare we can chip in together.  I am open to any and all ideas.  Please contact me before attending, so that I can answer any questions.
So if your soul has begun to stir and the Holy Spirit begun to gently nudge you to experience God in a new way... make plans to join me this summer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Would You Dare To Believe?

I heard this song on KLOVE this morning... and I thought of you.  You are going through a lot of pain right now... a lot of questions... like "Why, God?"  I know you can't see the bigger picture... but God can... and could you even imagine that the wilderness you are going through right now... just might be the answer to your prayer?

And we know that God causes everything 
to work together for the good of those who love God 
and are called according to his purpose for them.  
Romans 8:28 NLT




Before the Morning

Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Chorus:
Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you get there
so just say a prayer.
and hold on, cause there's good who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning
yeah, yeah,
before the morning,
yeah, yeah

Once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
memory, memory, yeah

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

com'n, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the hurt before the healing
the pain you've been feeling,
just the dark before the morning
before the morning, yeah, yeah
before the morning

Christian lyrics - BEFORE THE MORNING LYRICS - JOSH WILSON

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Oasis In The Wilderness

I am still thinking about the wilderness...
The one that the Israelites wandered in...
The ones that I have wandered in...
The ones that you are wandering in...

There is a precious one in my life struggling with depression.  Not the circumstantial kind.  Not the just-pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind.  The deep dark there-is-nothing-I-can-do-on-my-own kind.   The is-it-time-to-consider-antidepressants kind.

And as we journey through this together, I am reminded of different oases that the Lord placed in my wilderness of depression.  And I am overwhelmed at how the Lord took care of me... and loved on me... during a time when I could not take care of myself... and wondered how anyone could love this lump of depression named, Sheri.

In my current Bible Study, One In A Million: Journey to Your Promised Land, Priscilla Shirer reflects on Hosea 2:14 NASB

Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness
And speak kindly to her. 
 
And it brought to my memory... Graham Cooke speaking on "The Nature of God" and how I had put it on my iPod and how I would listen to it as I would try to fall asleep during my deepest depression... to keep other voices at bay.  And I reminded the precious one who is in her wilderness right now... and then I thought... some of you might find comfort in it, too.  I am praying for you.








Here is a transcription I was given:

THE NATURE OF GOD

By Graham Cooke

How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. When you know, when you really know the sovereignty of God and His Lordship over all things – seen and unseen; when you are able to confess Him as the Supreme Ruler over all things, and to confess that He is your Lord and you are His possession, then at that point, you are the happiest of people. You could not get any happier. Nothing could happen that could be so wonderful, that it could possibly be better than the happiness you have in the Lordship and Supremacy of Jesus Christ. When you know that you are situated, that you are located in the heart of the happiest, most powerful Person ever to live, then you cannot be more happy than at that point. When you able to step back into His rest and live in the High Tower of His name, so that when the enemy come raging against you, he cannot find you – that’s joy! That’s happiness!

How blessed is he whose help is in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord His God, the One who made Heaven and Earth; who made the sea and all that is in them; the One who keeps faith forever. When all your confidence is in the One who made Heaven and Earth, when everything you need in life is utterly dependent on the goodness, the mercy, the kindness, the love, the grace, the power, of the One Person who is Supreme God above all gods. When your present, and your future, and your health, and your destiny, and your life, depends totally on the God who works for weak, twisted and deceitful people, then you simply have to be the happiest people on the face of the Earth, because your happiness is built totally on the knowledge of the God who gives favor to weak, selfish people. He has given you an unshakable conviction and confidence in is His ability to bring change and power to bear on your life. Therefore, the most wonderful thing you will ever do with your life is to trust it to the nature of God - to put it into the hands of a God who totally loves you, and is deeply committed to you, and delights in helping you. It is the most happiest feeling to totally trust the best, the most honorable, the most powerful, the most integrous, committed, and faithful covenant-maker who is also the most decent Person who ever lived – Jesus. Being completely reliant on His character and integrity is the source of your great happiness!

We rest in Your nature – to me, Father, You are the kindest Person I have ever known. You are the happiest Person I know. You are the most consistent Person we have ever dealt with. You never change. Everything comes down to us from this Father of Lights, in whom there is no variation of shadow of turning. You say with absolute confidence, “I AM THE LORD. I change not. I AM the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

And Beloved, we are learning to live in the paradox of God – to know that He is consistent, but He is also unpredictable. He is consistent in His nature – you always know where you are with God, but you seldom know what He is going to do next. But you always know where you are with God because He never changes. When Moses said, “God, please show me Your glory,” maybe he was expecting some great display of power and light, but God just looked at him and smiled at him and said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass before you” because the glory of God is the nature of God – that God is good! He is good! He is unfailingly good! He is good! He is good! God is good! Good! He is good! And He is never changes – He will always be good! Yesterday He is good, today He is good, tomorrow He will be good. And it is your destiny to have the goodness of God pass before you. He’ll never change. You will always know where you are with Him. He never changes. He is consistent – the most consistent Person ever. He will never change His heart toward you no matter what you do. He cannot be anything other than what He is. He is a covenant-maker, a covenant-keeper, and He is good!

Our God is consistent, but He is also unpredictable. You never know what God is going to do next. You always know what He is going to be like, but you never know what He is going to do next. God has called you to see the invisible, the impossible. God has not called you to do the things that you can do. He has called you to do the things you can never be able to do in a million years. You are not able to do what God has called you to do. Only He can do it. But He has called you to live in His faithfulness. He has called you to live in His consistency. He will come and do all that needs to be done. So, Beloved, you cannot find security in what God is doing, because God commits you to the impossible. He asks you to see the invisible. He calls you to do the outrageous. There is no security in that place. There is no security in what God is doing. There is only security in who God is. This great God that we serve will throw us into situations beyond us with no other thought than that His great heart will sustain us. And the answer of God to everything, every excuse you want to make why you can’t do something – the answer is always the same. When you look into His face and see the twinkle in His eye and the grin on His face, and He looks at you and He says, “Nevertheless, I will be with you.” That is His only answer to human weakness. “It’s okay. I will be there.” He is a great God who sends us out as lambs among wolves. Why? Because the Lion is padding by our side.

What God has called us to is outrageous, impossible, and totally unpredictable. And the only way that we will do it is because we are secure in the nature of God. He is consistent, but He is unpredictable. But the church, you know, is the opposite – we are inconsistent in relationships but oh so boringly predictable in everything we do. That is the nature of the change that is coming, Beloved. And the only way that we will come into that high place of anointing and power, to seize the moment, to advance the kingdom, to swim against the tide, to go against the odds, to sail against the wind that is in the world, is if you and I are resting in the consistent nature of God. That you and I have a testimony of what God is really like living in our hearts in such a powerful way that it drives everything. It is that testimony that is the very essence of prophecy, the testimony of what Jesus is really, really like. “I AM the Lord. I never, ever change. I will always be exactly like this.” And we are discovering what the “exactly like this” is all about. Beloved, do not be distracted from your journey into the nature of God. Don’t be distracted, because that is the source. It is the wellspring of all your joy, your peace, your rest, your revelation, your anointing, your power. It is the nature of God. And when you learn to rest in the nature of God, when He comes walking within the impossible, you will be the one that gets out of the boat to join Him. You won’t be one of those who stand in there wondering, or thinking about joining Him. There will be this instinctive, intuitive NEED to put your leg over the side of the boat and start walking on a substance you have no business being on except that He is drawing you there.

It is your destiny, Beloved, to walk in the nature of God and do greater things than He did. It is your destiny. But you’ll never get out there unless you learn how to live in here. You’re perfect. Beloved, you are perfect for God. You’re perfect. And He is going to make you perfect in His nature, stamping the image of Jesus on you. It is going to be great. And that is what the desert is about. It is about discovering the majesty of God. Hosea 2:14, 15 says, “I will captivate her heart and draw her into the wilderness to speak kindly to her.” And out of that place of coming into a revelation of the nature of God for me - out of that place, God will give your vineyard of fruitfulness. Guaranteed! See, He knows the plan He has for you, the things He wants you to accomplish. But first, first I want you to see Me as I really am for you, as I am for you, for you. I want you to know Me as I am for you.

Everyone of us needs a revelation of an aspect of the nature of God. For me, it has always been the kindness of God. God has been relentlessly kind to me over many, many, many years. Kinder than I deserve. Relentlessly kind. He has pursued me with kindness, to the point where every living day I expect to have an experience of the kindness of God. I have an expectation when I wake up in the morning. Even in my dreams, I expect the kindness of the Lord to come. I can’t remember a day when I was disappointed in the last, I don’t know, 10 years at least. The thing is, I look for the kindness of God every day, because that is my joy – to see the hand of kindness coming toward me, the kind word, the blessing. Even difficult days, there is always an act of kindness for me, because that is my revelation. He is the kindest Person I have ever met in my entire life. Beloved, He will not rest Himself until you have a revelation of what He is really, really like. Then He has to back that revelation up with experience. These are the things He so loves to do.

He is faithful. From this day on, for you there is no such thing as a good day or a bad day. There is only a day of grace. And some days the grace of God allows you to enjoy what is happening. And some days the grace of God allows you to endure what is happening. But don’t think about good and bad anymore – just enjoy the grace that is present. And out of that grace will come an expectancy. I know You are going to do something today. I just want to be alive to You so that I can see it; wait for it; speak it out; live in it; experience it; worship You in it; glorify Your name in it. There are no good days anymore; there are no bad days; just days of grace. Just days of grace. And the grace of God is going to come and bring with it the nature of God, that you might know Him. That you might know Him. That you might know Him and rest in Him, move in Him, worship Him, represent Him. Yeah, God.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

And Not Just Grace, But Truth And Grace

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
photography by Anthony

Wilderness.  Truth. And Grace.  These are where my thoughts have been lately. 

Wilderness thinking has been stirred by the Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer, One In A Million: Journey to Your Promised Land.  Truth and Grace have been rustled up by The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller and The Grace and Truth Paradox: Responding with Christlike Balance by Randy Alcorn.

And I have to tell you that I have been a bit undone.  Having a lot of "aha!" moments.  Desiring to share them with you (considering I had a dream about you last night... I knew it had been too long since I posted), but not being able to put my thoughts into words.  And I still don't know that I have the words, but I will share some of my thinking.

I think where I learned how to be truly gracious... how to have compassion for others... have been during my wilderness times.   I have tended to be a legalist.  I am most comfortable with things as black or white.  Dos or Don'ts.  Right or Wrong. True or false.  But when I have been in the wilderness... humbled deeply by my situation... I had to depend upon God's grace to get through.

For it is by grace you have been saved, 
through faith—and this not from yourselves, 
it is the gift of God— 
not by works, so that no one can boast.  
Ephesians 2:8-9

And I think because I had to rely upon God's grace... I had to receive His grace... I had to understand His grace in those wilderness times... that by receiving grace I can give grace.  Seems similar to forgiveness... where if we truly receive God's forgiveness, we are truly able to forgive others.

She was forgiven many, many sins, 
and so she is very, very grateful. 
If the forgiveness is minimal, 
the gratitude is minimal. 
Luke 7:47 The Message

And so for me... since I have been given such amazing grace during my wilderness times... truly amazing grace, I am desperate to share it with others during their wilderness times.  And not just grace, but truth and grace.  Grace brings comfort.  Truth brings freedom.

Praying this meets you where you are... where you have been... or perhaps where you are going.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 9
Led You All The Way In The Desert

White Snow on White Sands...
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
photography by Anthony

Remember how the LORD your God 
led you all the way in the desert 
these forty years, 
to humble you and to test you 
in order to know what was in your heart, 
whether or not you would keep his commands.

Deuteronomy 8:2