Monday, December 20, 2010

When words are both weapon and salve for the wound

She wasn’t the first to receive a lashing from my tongue today. Razors on my lips, cutting little tender hearts. “What are you doing?! You’re standing right by Lucia’s door and shouting! If you wake her up I am not going to be happy!

Mommy, don’t ever talk to me like that!” The quiver in her lip reveals the damage I’ve done, but I hear the anger in her voice and call it rebellion.

My fuse has already been lit, and I could close my mouth, but I don’t. Isn’t my own rebellion really the fuel for this fire seeking to destroy us both?

Don’t you ever tell me what to do!” My voice is large and powerful, but inside I wince even as I’m still forming the words. Oh! Where do words like these come from? That tone of voice. The daggers in my eyes.

The quivering lip can’t hold it in now, and the wounded one shrieks as she runs to her bed. Tears spill onto her pillow, as my own tears sting my eyes. The bitterness of failure biting the edges, as I struggle to see, to grasp for Grace.

She crumples on the bed, I crumple to the floor. We both quiver with liquid prayers flowing over faces and hearts.

     It’s here, right here in these moments, where I am learning to find Jesus. In the weak places. The broken places. The ones that make my heart reel and my head spin with pain over what I’ve done. When I see my sin for what it is and I cannot hide it from my eyes. 

     I’m learning to hear Him in the dark and lonely places. The places that used to make me cower in fear and shame. When that accusing voice calling me a failure as a mother sounds true, because what kind of mother talks to her daughter like that? When the tempter comes with his searing whisper “You’ve tried and you’ve failed. You’re beyond hope now.”

     But lies aren’t Truth, no matter what I feel or how I fail. And I’m beginning to see that the One who is Faithful and True has been speaking the whole time. But what He says seems so impossible, for so long I didn’t dare to believe Him.

He has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, Is. 61:10 

     Here in the mud and the muck of my heart, God Himself has claimed me as His own possession. Jesus paid the highest price for my freedom, all so that He can clothe me with His finest garments. 

    And yet, I’ve slipped and fallen in the mud again. Hasn’t He done enough? Hasn’t He tired of me continually needing rescuing? Shouldn’t I be stronger by now, able to walk on my own without tripping and stumbling again and again? 

      And this, THIS is the lie, the one that makes hopelessness inevitable. The lie that I am supposed to be able to do this on my own.

     When I come out of hiding, that sweet, still, small voice never fails. “Come to me.” 

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

     The ease doesn’t come in me finding my own strength, it comes from being yoked to Him. Somehow I wandered, tried to carry a load that I thought was mine to bear alone. But as my tears and His voice draw me home, I turn my heart again to the One who is forming me into His own likeness. I have no strength to bring, only the one thing I can give, my heart. If I don't give up, I win!

     In the coming to Him, I go to her. The sobs have quieted, but her voice still shakes when I come near. Low and gentle, on my knees by her bed, I offer my sincere repentance. And she too, washed by Grace, holds me tight as we let Love heal us and repair the breach.

For more on the power of words, read Ann Voskamp's fabulous post today, 

Monday, December 06, 2010

The joy of salvation comes through repentance

I don’t want to construct a life that displays my earnest effort to avoid the need to repent.  I want to delight in the mercy of God and display the truth of His goodness!  

Repentance is a joy, and forgiveness is exhilarating!  

He is so good to me!  Jesus came to set me free, today!  I haven’t matured beyond my need for His mercy.  I need Him today, and I’ll need Him tomorrow.  And just because He wants to, because of who He is, He’ll be there to answer when I turn away from sin and turn to Him and ask Him to cleanse me again.  

There is no sin that can defeat me when I really bring it to Him and say “This sin is mine.  I don’t want it anymore.  Please get it out of me.  I can’t do it myself!”  JESUS WINS!  Every. Single. Time.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Journey in Matthew 9, via my own heart

“Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” (9:2, Jesus, to the paralytic man)

      I wonder what the paralytic man thought of that. Did he understand that Jesus was in that moment displaying Himself as The Son of God? Did the man know that this was his deepest need? Did he realize that he had just been given open access relationally to God in the flesh? He had just been invited into fellowship with the Holy One, God Himself! Did he even have a clue?
      I can picture myself as the paralytic man. In that moment, still lying on the mat, legs still unrenewed, completely unaware of the miracle taking place in the spirit, thinking “Dude, that’s nice…but are you gonna do something about my legs?”
      How would I respond if I was that man? Would I see the treasure of forgiveness for what it is? Would I be able to receive it? What are the things that I’m bringing before the Lord, asking Him to do for me, that may be stealing my focus from what He really wants to do in me?

“…that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins…” (9:6)

      I think I’ve typically read this like “that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins…”. The emphasis has been on the power. He does have power. And I do need a revelation of what that means. But in seeing His power in a different light, I think a foundational reality has somehow dimmed…that this power is unto the forgiveness of sins.
      Like a paralyzed man caring more about his legs than his soul, I come to the Lord longing for His hand in my life, yielding tangible change and “results”. I am all too aware of my weakness. I know I need forgiveness. I yearn to be washed of my sin. But is that longing for forgiveness unto restored relationship? Do I want to be free from sin so that I can engage my heart fully with the Holy Spirit? Or am I longing for an unburdened heart so that I can get on with my business more efficiently, unhindered by the consequences of sin? Am I seeking intimacy, or functionality?

“...a ruler came and worshipped Him, saying “My daughter has just died, 
but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.” (9:18)

      In considering the story of the paralytic man, and my own tendency to seek Jesus’ power in my life for my own benefit, I am tempted to squelch that desire for evident power. Like some sort of twisted means to, by the flesh, force my flesh to submit to the Spirit. As though denying the evidence of power would somehow purify my desire for God, because I would be simply walking in the Spirit for Himself, without the possibility of my own benefit.
      But here, just a few verses later, my religious attempt at self-righteous purity of heart is exposed. Here, the ruler comes to Jesus, seeking the healing of His daughter. And this seeking, this asking for tangible power to be made manifest, is described as “{he} came and worshipped Him.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010


     Recently I was reading through Matthew Chapter 4, which tells of Jesus calling Simon Peter and Andrew, who were fisherman. He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It reminded me of something the Lord spoke to my heart a couple weeks ago, and wanted to share it here with you as an encouragement.

     I was sitting by a quiet lake/pond (alone for the first time in many months!) just fellowshipping with the Lord. I was meditating on the life of Peter, and was especially pondering the time when the Lord appears to him by the sea after the resurrection (John 21, when Jesus tells them to cast the net on the right side of the boat, and they caught so many fish they couldn’t even draw in the net.)

     I hear a noise and look up to see a man several yards away, unfolding a chair and taking out a fishing pole. I think “Fancy that! A fisherman, just like Peter.” As the man prepares his hook and casts his line into the pond, the Lord drops the phrase into my heart

“One who casts a line is no less a fisherman than one who casts a net.”

     I won’t unpack all that the Lord spoke to me, but the main thing was this – in this season of my life, most of my time is spent on tasks that have direct impact on only a very small number of people. My husband, my children, some friends, and maybe a few strangers that the Lord puts in my path. There are no multitudes. But He calls me a fisher of men just the same as He calls the evangelist whose net is much wider. A fisherman is a fisherman because he is engaged in the task of catching fish. My line may only have room to catch one fish at a time. I may spend most of my energy trolling for the four little fish in my own pond (i.e. my children).

    But I am, indeed, a fisher of men. And if you know Jesus, He's called you just the same!  You don't have to wait for "someday" when you have an official ministry platform.  You have Good News, and the world needs it.  Don't disqualify yourself.  Just go fish!

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Remember my post "What does it mean to do all things to the glory of God?"

Go check out Matt's post "Is Excellence A Virtue?".

He is right on the mark, and his post has helped bring some context to my own struggle with the concept of "excellence", and how Christians should define or pursue it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

No Condemnation

What does it really mean, what does it really look like, to be dead to sin and alive to God, to walk free from all condemnation? 

I’ve been swimming around in the book of Romans lately, mostly in chapters 5-8.  Looking at Romans 8:1, I think the way I’ve usually I’ve usually heard this verse is with the connotation that “no condemnation” essentially equals freedom from guilt, sorrow, or remorse.  In my experience, the phrase “no condemnation” seems to be practically substitutable for “don’t worry about it” in Christian vernacular.  As in, “Oh, don’t feel bad, there’s no condemnation.”  I think that’s a shallow understanding, so I’m digging here until the Lord moves me on. 

   There is so much for me to learn in terms of living not only free from the consequences of sin, but actually living free from sin.  Like Jesus said to the adulterous woman after saving her from condemnation at the hands of the Pharisees “Neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more.”

But how to walk this out…ah!  There is the rub.
 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that ones’ slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.” 
I so often find myself essentially gritting my teeth and saying to sin “You’re not the boss of me!”  That’s better than intentionally embracing sin, but it is not the same as presenting myself to the Lord. 

I want to walk in the Spirit.

I want to, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the body

I am so with Paul on this one – “O wretched {wo}man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
C’mon, world, I know you feel it too“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God…because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

     “No condemnation” does not only mean freedom from guilt, sorrow, or remorse.  But it does mean that if we are in Christ, we are not defined by our sin, its consequences, or the guilt, sorrow, or remorse that we feel when we do sin.
     I am in a place of pain at not walking in the reality of the freedom that I know is available to me.  BUT, this ache does not mean that I am defined by falling short of the mark.  It means that I have been given the gift of longing for God and His ways.

v. 11, 15 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  …  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you,
         And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you
         For the LORD is a God of justice;
         How blessed are all those who long for Him.
 O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer 

He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
 Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher.
 Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it,"

-Is 30:18-21

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Wisdom

I jumped into a conversation about wisdom, prompted by Kat's questions "How do you pursue Wisdom?" and "How do you learn best?"

I do glean a lot from books, blogs, conversation, audiobooks, etc. But I think most of what I glean is not truly wisdom as much as it is encouragement, neat ideas, or just interesting. Some of those resources do share wisdom, or inspire me to pursue wisdom. But for the most part I think the questions “How do you pursue wisdom?” and “How do you learn best?” may be related, but they are really not the same question.

        So if wisdom comes from God, how do we pursue it? And what is wisdom anyway? Is it some special brand of smart?

My favorite passage about wisdom is Proverbs 2:
1 My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
3 For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD
And discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

I love this passage, and I love that this post and discussion have prompted me to revisit it. I guess the key things here that impact how I set my heart to gain wisdom are
        v.1 the essential centrality of the Word as beloved instructor,
        v.2 the required devotion of my attention and affection,
        v.3 the necessity of a response of sincere spoken prayer,
        v.4 the high value placed upon wisdom that produces diligent perseverance
        And the final key – the possession of wisdom is inseparable from the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God.

        So, I pursue wisdom by setting my heart and my mind continually upon the Lord, devoting myself to long and loving meditation on the word and the person of Christ, speaking prayers to the God of the universe (believing that He hears every one), and valuing my communion with God as priceless above all else. For me, “long and loving meditation” in this season usually does not look like spending even an hour-long block of time giving my exclusive attention to a passage of scripture. It’s simply the grace-empowered setting of my heart on a pilgrimage into the heart of God. I want to fill my mind with thoughts of the Lord and His Word. I will seek you today Lord, and when Your Spirit woos me back from distraction I will start again, and again tomorrow, and still the next day, and still the next, and again, and again. And though 10 years from now I will have barely grasped a cupful of the infinite ocean that is called “the knowledge of God”, I will, by Your Grace, possess Living Water more than I have today. And therein, I find Wisdom.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Journey of My Heart

I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. (Romans 7:18)

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-22)

So, I set my heart on a pilgrimage (psalm 84:5)

Day by day, minute by minute, choice by choice, yes by yes.

In all these things I am more than a conqueror through him who loves me. I am convinced that nothing in all creation will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord. (Rom 8:37-39)

Day by day, minute by minute, choice by choice, yes by yes,

I set my mind on the Spirit (Rom 8:5)

As I behold the glory of the Lord; I am being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)

Friday, August 06, 2010

I woke up this morning after having a horrible, horrible dream that left me feeling emotionally raw and vulnerable. I felt totally slimed, and desperate for Light and Truth in my heart.

Crying into the cereal as I put the bowls in front of the kids. Totally broken.

Turned on a movie, told them “Do not get up until Veggie Tales is over”, and went to catch my breath.

 Asked some friends and my hubby to pray for me.

 Grabbed my bible and put my heart before the Lord asking “Please, please meet me. I won’t make it through this day without your touch.”


He did. God is so faithful. He met me. He lifted the cloud of heaviness and brought peace.

God is real. His Word is true. I have nothing to offer but ashes and filth. But Jesus brings beauty to my broken, stained heart.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

More (mostly questions) on Economics and the Kingdom of God

A friend posted a link to this article on Facebook, and it really got me thinking (again) about economics and the Kingdom of God. Learning about the global economic situation and fiscal policy makes me fall in love with Jesus in whole new ways and want to peer deeper into the workings of the Kingdom. Man's feeble attempts to right the sinking ship that we've built seem like so much thrashing about in an ocean of greed, selfishness and pride. Seeing brilliant and powerful people scramble to avert a disaster of our own making makes me tremble a little, and then I remember – He’s coming!

What will global economics look like when Jesus reigns on the earth? What is the fiscal policy of Heaven? I don’t mean those as just rhetorical questions…I really want to know. I’ve looked some at what the Word says about personal finance, but lately I’ve been listening to NPR’s Planet Money podcast and it makes me realize that I have very little understanding of what God (the best economist) would really say about the systemic problems contributing to national and international-level economic crisis.

One the one hand, it seems so simple – we should love each other, walk in humility and generosity, and not do wicked things like putting people in financial slavery. But even good intentions don’t always make good policy. To really institute a global economic system functioning on the basis of love, humility, generosity and righteousness, it takes perfect leadership over individual hearts and perfect administration on a massive scale. In other words, it takes Jesus, reigning as King.

So, here in the waiting, what does that mean for me (or for us, the global church)? What’s my relationship to the economics of this world? I want to understand how we got to where we are now, and whether there is anything of redeeming value in our current system. Is it so full of decay that it will all just be tossed on the burn pile of eternity? Or is there any shred of true provision left within the framework that we’ve constructed? I wonder if we’ve tried so hard to manufacture our own provision and security that we have essentially cut ourselves off from the provision of Heaven on a widespread level. I mean that in literal, earthy terms. How much faith have we placed in the sustainability of our global economic system? If that system collapsed next year, how would the Church respond? How would I respond? Am I living today in a way that agrees with God’s economy or fights against it? Is the church at large really walking in the Gospel of the Kingdom? Do we even know what that looks like?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Love of Money links

My post below reminded me of a great, great, great series that my friend Suzanna wrote recently. I urge you to set aside some time to sit and read and prayerfully consider her words
1. Oh, how I love…money?
2. Love of Money - Part 2
3. Love of Money - Where We're From

On Prosperity and the Kingdom

I've been thinking a lot lately about economics, personal finance, and the kingdom of God. So when I read Kristen's post Why is America blessed?, I already had a lot on my mind.

She begins by asking "Why does North America have so much, while the rest of the world has so little?" She references a comment she received on a previous post that pointed out the possibility that affordability or frugality may be inadequate standards to determine the appropriate boundaries for our spending. Then she asks "Why do you think America is so blessed? Is it so we can build a greater country or is it for us to help that tiny continent and others like it...and make HIS glory known?" That was all the invitation I needed to jump into the discussion.

I think that many things we generically think of as blessings (the relative ease of our lives in America and prosperity we enjoy, for example) have insidious backsides on both the personal and global level. Ease, prosperity, and comfort tend to breed entitlement, pride, and selfishness in hearts untempered by the grace and fear of God. Globally, our relative prosperity has not come without a price. Our insatiable appetite for bigger-better-faster-more has certainly had implications on lands and peoples across the world, and the influence has not been entirely good.

Beyond that, I'm not convinced that our prosperity is going to last indefinitely, despite the fact that most people are living like it will. I read an excellent post about that issue yesterday, referring to our current way of life as the next bubble to pop - along the lines of the stock, dot-com, and housing bubbles that have rocked our economy in the past. (Read "Pop Goes the Lifestyle")

As far as what to do with abundance when it comes our way - I believe that we should be living lifestyles of generous, extravagant giving, regardless of where we fall on the income bracket. In seasons past, that may have looked for me like writing a check to help buy medical supplies for an impoverished community. Recently, that has looked more like keeping the employees of our business working and paying them fair wages, even when we have to get food from the food bank (and then sharing some food bank food with a friend who had even less than we). My global impact financially may be small right now, but I want to build a lifestyle of giving NOW, so that when abundance comes, giving grows naturally.

Ultimately, I think the cry of Kristen's heart for justice (and so many others who join with her) echoes the cry from the very throne and heart of God. It’s no accident that the question comes down to one thing – the glory of His name. On the surface, the disparate distribution of wealth among the nations appears to be an economic and moral issue, but there’s more to it than simply fairness or generosity. The inability of nations to care for and about one another in a meaningful way on the global level highlights the most desperate need of the human race – a King who is righteous and true, full of love and compassion, who loves to give good gifts and make us righteous and honest and loving and compassionate and all of the things that we simply are not without Him. That’s what the Gospel of the Kingdom is all about – Jesus coming to make wrong things right. And there is something *wrong* with a world where so many live in absolute poverty, and we care so little.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Someday my house will seem too quiet, and too-loud voices at naptime would be welcomed as joyful company.

Someday I’ll be washing laundry only for two, and the absence of muddy tights & stained white dresses will only follow the absence of the wearer.

Someday I will have abundant time to myself, where I can read|work|think|pray without interruption, and I will long for the surprise of toddlers too-soon awake.

Someday the thought “I just wish I could have two hours to myself!” will be replaced with “I just wish we could have two hours all together!”

Someday I will miss this.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Conversations with Abigail: Does Mr. Obama believe in God?

I had an awesome conversation with Abigail while driving to a birthday party this weekend. I think I would like to start blogging some of my conversations with her in order to practice communicating around questions like: How do we teach & talk to our young children about God? How do we communicate about complex concepts with children in a way that is biblically honest, but still accessible?

In this conversation, a few of my strategies are evident:

#1 - I take her questions seriously. If she asks a question, I want to give it a real, robust answer. Usually if she asks something, she’s ready to hear the answer. I try not to make it black-and-white if it’s not. I want to give the nuance, the subtleties.

#2 - I want to teach not just right conclusions or right thinking, but godly processes. When she asks “Does Mr. Obama believe in God?” She does not need me to recruit her for a political agenda. She needs me to help her walk through the murky waters of “What does it mean to believe in God? How do I know if someone else believes in God?” If I make a judgment of any kind on another person, I am not only telling her what I think, I'm teaching her how to judge. I want her to understand the process, not just the conclusions.

#3 - If a scripture comes to mind, it’s usually the Holy Spirit – so I go with it and see where He takes us.

While I drove her to a birthday party, Abigail asked me “Does Mr. Obama believe in God?”

We talked about believing in the idea of “a god” vs. trusting in Jesus as the fullness of God revealed in flesh and our only way of salvation, as well as having a biblical understanding of God’s character and His kingdom. I told her that although Mr. Obama says he believes in God, some of the things he says and does don’t agree with the bible. I told her that specifically I have heard people say that he doesn’t believe that Jesus is the only way for people to know God. If he thinks people can know God, live righteously, and or go to heaven without trusting in Jesus, then He doesn’t trust in the God of the bible that we know.

So then she asked “Mommy, sometime can we go to the White House and talk to Mr. Obama?”

I told her maybe we could go there sometime, but that doesn’t mean we’d be able to talk to him. I explained that since there are so many people in our country, not everyone gets to meet the President.

Abigail: “Can we call him on the phone?”

Me: “Hmmm…maybe. I’m not sure how that works. Maybe we can look up the phone number some time. What would you want to tell him?”

Abigail: “I would want to tell him about righteousness and Jesus and truth. If he doesn’t know Jesus I want to tell him about Him.”

Me: “That’s awesome, Abigail. What would you say to tell him about those things?”

Abigail: “I don’t know. I don’t know what I would say.”

As she said that, a scripture popped into mind. (You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you*).

I told her that it’s ok that she’s not sure exactly what she would say. I told her that we want to know the scriptures and know the voice of the Spirit, so that no matter where we are or who we are with, we will be able to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying and speak those words boldly.

Conversation to be continued…

*What I was actually thinking of was Matthew 10:18-20, but I didn’t know the specific verse. As I was talking to her I got my passages mixed up and used the language of Acts 2:4 “as the spirit gave them utterance”…which is actually directly relevant later in our conversation.

I also got the context wrong. I was thinking Acts 4: 8 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…”). But the Matthew 10 exhortation was actually Jesus speaking to the disciples.

And I got the main characters wrong. I said I thought it was Paul before some Roman leaders (Acts 24-26).

Although I didn’t have all my biblical references precise in my mind, I had the biblical principle right, and I think that’s most important. Now that I have looked up the references, I can go back and talk through it with her again – showing her where Mommy was off, and talking about how Jesus taught his disciples ahead of time to prepare them for the trouble that was coming. Also, showing the multiple occasions where this principle was walked out by the disciples.

I added the * explanation to demonstrate how rigorous theological discussions with our kids do not have to be limited to a context where we have all the knowledge and resources at our fingertips. Bringing the scripture into this discussion was important and valuable, even though I got some of the references jumbled.

When I return...a conversation about tongues & interpretation with a not-yet-5-year-old

Saturday, May 01, 2010

What does it mean to do all things to the glory of God?

I don't think the biblical exhortation to do all things "as unto the Lord" or "for the glory of God" is talking about doing things well, "trying our hardest" or achieving any specific measurable standard of excellence. We don't glorify God by being good at stuff. I think it's about giving Jesus the preeminence in all things, and doing all things in fellowship with Him.

Our work matters, and to do it with apathy or to avoid it does not bring glory to God. But I don't think the cure for apathy, laziness, or hiding our talents, is to try harder or to aim for objectively measurable excellence.  I think as we are in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He will lead us into meaningful, fruitful work which will glorify Himself. But if our eyes are fixed on excellence as the goal, even in a desire to bring glory to God, we are likely to miss the heart. I think the motivation is the key, not only for our own hearts, but also for the way we transfer expectations onto others.

I have lived different sides of this - pursuit of excellence that led to perfectionism, pride, and condemnation; shame when I felt like trying my hardest was killing me and producing only failure; apathy when I didn't know what to do so I would just do nothing; desperation when I realized apathy was killing my heart...I'm now in a place of seeking, asking - What does it really mean to glorify God? If I totally screw up can God still be glorified in me? I know He can. So how is that different from when I don't screw up? Am I doing something more "unto the Lord" if I am exerting more effort at the task? What about the result - is God more glorified if it turns out awesome? What if it turns out awesomely awesome but I wasted a whole bunch of time making it the most awesomest thing ever? How does my mindset affect how I use my time? Does doing something “as unto the Lord” mean that I take more time and make it better, or take less time and worry less about answering to someone else’s standard in order to devote myself to tasks of greater importance? Or (more likely) does it all just depend on the specifics of the situation?  Are these questions that can be answered objectively, or is there a God-breathed rhema word for each individual in each moment?

I don't have many clear answers, except "Abide in Me, for apart from Me you can do nothing." So that's where I'm at. Although even that is a question in my heart "So, Lord, by abiding in You, what exactly does that mean for me right now? Am I abiding in you by reading Your Word right now? Or would abiding look like being faithful to my obligations by doing the dishes right now? Or is abiding an internal state that isn't conditional upon my tasks? So can I "abide" and do whatever I want as long as I'm thinking about You? If I can't do whatever I want, then what, precicely, is the boundary of "abiding?"..." And on, and on, and on. All I know is that I need Him. And needing Him gives Him more glory than being good at stuff

Friday, January 01, 2010


Today feels all shiny & new and full of glorious possibility. I’m brimming with anticipation of what this new year will bring.

I ponder…how does such an intangible thing – the shifting of times, changing of seasons – feel so concrete?

And yet, today is undeniably a new day. A new year. The hope-filled future lies ahead. And His mercies feel especially new this morning.