Tuesday, March 24, 2009

By Your Side

Here are some lyrics to a new song that is rocking my soul right now... By Tenth Avenue North.

Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace? Why are you crying? Let me lift up your face, Just don't turn away.

Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough? To where will you go child? Tell me where will you run, To where will you run?

And I'll be by your side, Wherever you fallIn the dead of night, Whenever you call, And please don't fight These hands that are holding you, My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side, They swallowed the grave on that night, When I drank the world's sin So I could carry you in, And give you lifeI want to give you life

And I'll be by your side, Wherever you fall In the dead of night, Whenever you call, And please don't fight These hands that are holding you, My hands are holding you.

Cause I, I love youI want you to knowThat I, I love youI'll never let you go.

And I'll be by your side, Wherever you fall. In the dead of night, Whenever you call. And please don't fight These hands that are holding youMy hands are holding you.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Something I am Pondering...

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." I don't know who said it.
But I like it. A lot.
And I pretty sure I agree whole heartedly. Because if someone is holistically satisfied in Christ, doesn't that mean that they are wholly and completely consumed with Him? Wouldn't that mean that they are totally abandoned to Him and prepared to be radically obedient to His call and His will, no matter what it is? I think so... but that's just me.
I think that to be satisfied in God, we must be content to be unsatisfied with everything else; there is nothing else, here on earth or in this life, that stirs our affections for Christ and to Christ like Christ Himself.
He is a jealous for us. What an odd picture of a Holy God. He is jealous for me, my time, my thoughts, my desires, etc. He wants all of me, all the time. The Creator of the universe... is jealous over me?
Thinking of Him in that way, in that light, makes dim every other offering presented to me on a daily basis. The internet is not jealous for my time, yet in it consumes most of it. Few of my friends would say that they are in fact jealous for my attention and conversation, yet I freely give it to them.
Imagine then, the satisfaction that awaits our souls if we give to God of ourselves the way in which he craves. Could it be that if we were to transfer our attentions from those things which do not satisfy to Him who does, we would finally find what it is that we are all so desperately seeking?
And if in fact we simply did this and found true and complete satisfaction at its' source, I would then venture to say that our praise and glory of God might be that much more genuine, in spirit and truth.
At the end of the day, is that not our total purpose? To worship, praise and glorify our savior? Whether in word or deed? Are we not simply asked to love Him with all that we are?
So it comes full ciricle: Find satisfaction in Him, glorify him more completely, find continued satisfaction, continue to glorify Him.
And no part of the cycle is of our own doing or in our own power. We do it because He has freely bestowed the grace on us which makes our unworthy pursuit possible. And we can only continue to pursue by the strength that He supplies, so as to continue to give us reason and evidence to praise Him for His grace and provision. Round and round we go.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For Global Food Crisis Day

I work for an organization that specializes in releasing children from poverty, so this subject is not only personal but familiar. But just because poverty’s impact is constantly on my radar, doesn’t mean I understand it anymore than the next person or that I (or anyone I work with) have figured out how to “fix it.” There are some days, in all honesty, that the more I know and learn about this epidemic, the more insurmountable it feels.

In searching for a new understanding and vantage point on the subject, a thought came to mind that may be a little unconventional. By this I simply mean that, more often than not, it feels as though the Church is looking for the list of things to do as opposed to understanding what it is that we are supposed to be. In Romans 7, Paul says that we are released from the law and are now under grace. The Law is representative of all the things we used to do when we were captive to earning salvation. But grace released us, prisoners to the law, from the bondage of earning redemption; grace lavished salvation over our souls at no cost; outside of anything we have done, beyond what we would ever be capable of doing.

In chapter 8, Paul writes it this way: “For the law of the Spirit of Life (grace) has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Again, the “law of sin and death” are those laws which, while the Lord gave us as standards, the church (in my opinion) has made ultimate; and they are no longer standards and guidelines for living or being, but are rather absolutes for doing.

Why the emphasis on doing versus being? I’ll tell you. I think that the misunderstanding and mingling of the two is, at the core, the problem that birthed poverty.

To “do” or the act of “doing” according to Webster means to “perform, execute, or accomplish.” According to our very action-oriented, output-obsessed society, these are all good and praiseworthy things. The equation seems to be busyness = productivity = holiness. But won’t the well run dry at some point? If you are only ever and always doing this and that, at what point and where do you renew your source of energy, passion, vision, direction, etc.? When do you stop to remind yourself the reason behind all the doing? Because if you are anything like me…the reason behind much of what I have done in the past morphs into a less-than-noble form of habit.

On the other hand, to “be” or the act of “being” means “to exist or live; to belong.” Call me crazy, but that sounds a heck of a whole lot more appealing than “doing.” To “exist” is something that happens outside of your own ability or will. If you exist, it is because Someone created you to exist at this appointed time and in the appointed place where you while you read this. In other words, it is outside of your control; you had nothing to do with it.

A few of my favorite verses have to do with this very subject. For example Philippians 1:6 says that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” So not only is God doing the “doing” but is in fact a continual process. Our role: to simply be. Be available. Be obedient. Just be.

The other verse that relates to this is found in 1 Thessalonians 5. After giving a list (Remember, I didn’t say that we weren’t give a list of to-do’s, I just said that they are not ultimate; they are not bigger/better/more important than our relationship with the Lord) in verse 16-18—“rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances”—Paul then says in verse 24 “He who calls you is faithful and He will surely do it.” So again, God does the “doing” and we are called to “be.”

So here’s my take. If we, believers, seek the Lord wholly and completely, above anything and everything else, would not the natural outflow of our hearts, minds, bodies, money, time, etc. be spent on and given to those things, people, places for which the Lord is absent? If we were so utterly consumed, from the inside out, with the Word and the Holy Spirit, would not our sole desire be to be Christ to those who do not know Him? Would not we feel totally compelled to share Him in the way we live, as testimonies, in the darkest places?

I think we would. But being pre-occupied with “doing” these things, instead of letting them naturally pour out of us, takes the divinity and sovereign control out of the hands and responsibility of God. In other words, I wonder if, in our “holy intention” we don’t steal from the Lord what is rightfully His (i.e. our complete surrender and total obedience) and make it look like what we think it ought to look like. And in doing so, we actually accomplish less. We get overwhelmed. We get confused. We run out of resources. We run out of time. We run out of ideas. We run out of strength to press on because our strength is never enough. In relying on ourselves, we find our attempts unfruitful, broken, and ultimately, we find that they fail.

So let’s connect the dots then to poverty.

If we, as a body of believers, stopped striving in our own ability and strength to be the hero of different situations and circumstances, and instead simply allow Christ, dwelling within us, to do what He wants through us by our simple obedience…how much more might He be capable of doing by our being?

If we are to look like Jesus in our living and being, then shouldn’t we compare ourselves to Him? Fine, let’s start with the obvious. When was the last time you fed someone on the street?

Jesus fed 5,000.

I don’t look like Him. Do you?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Beautiful Dream

Do you ever wake up knowing that you dreamt about something, or even several things, in an intense and vivid alternate-reality, but for some unknown and unexplainable reason, you can’t actually remember it enough to explain to anyone?

Please tell me I’m not alone.


Well, I had a dream like that last night and I can only remember a small fragment of it. But it was the most amazing thing. The magnitude of it, the incredible picture that it painted for me, didn’t come to light until mid-morning when I was sitting at my desk.

I wish I could remember how it started or what led up to this, the only part that I remember, but I guess I’ll just have to start with what I know.

It was dark. Pitch black. And I was alone. Running. I don’t know if I was running from something or just running in order to more quickly discover where exactly I was.

Then, suddenly, still in the dark, I literally ran into the arms of a man. Bigger, taller, stronger. He completely encapsulated me. And it wasn’t an abrupt run-in either. It was as if he saw me coming, opened up his arms, and gave in with his body to ease the blow.

It was so real I could feel it. I could feel him standing against me, holding me up. I could feel his arms firmly and gently wrapped around my waist. I felt his breath on the nape of my neck as he rested his cheek against mine.

When I opened my eyes, I was no longer in the dark. It was bright out.

And we were dancing.

I wish I knew how to properly express just how many ways this registers with me on a deep and unbelievably personal level. It hits home emotionally, physically, but primarily spiritually.

Maybe I’ll expand upon it later… but for now, I want to keep it just for me. It’s somewhat of a treasure today and a hope for tomorrow.