Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reformation Sunday

The thought one of my favorite quotes, "Are you content to be one snowflake in the blizzard of this life?" (ND Wilson)  collided with some underlining and written notes I was perusing today.
I had gifted "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hand" by Paul Tripp  months ago to my husband for some occassion or another. It was in his reading stack and one of my favorite things to do is to read through the highlighted and penciled comments in the books he's reading. This one fits to our thoughts on today a it is Reformation Sunday - the idea of being in a royal priesthood called to be a faithful defender yet numbered among the myriad of saints that have contended for the faith throughout hundreds and even thousands of years... many have gone before, many are to follow.

Your life is bigger than you ever imagined.  You live in one moment in time, yet you stand hand-in-hand with Enoch, Noah, Moses, Joseph, Abraham, Isaac, Jeremiah, Ezekial, Matthew, Peter, Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and generations of unknown believers who understood their place in the kingdom and did their part in its work.  Only as you keep this huge world in view will you be able to live and serve effectively in the small world where God has placed you.

 God gave some of these men a "heads up" on where they were headed - Joseph, Abraham, Paul - to name a few - but most often God doesn't layout life's blueprint for us, He calls us to be faithful in our little worlds... In our families, churches and communities.   In the daily doldrums, the Sabbath ruts, the part on part and stack on stack that accumulates along with graying hair.

I think too often these days we struggle with amnesia, God ordained his work to be accomplished through a holy catholic church not  a holy Catholic church- we are but one tiny speck in this march.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Planting Trees...

We chose the spot, we dug the hole,
we laid the maples in the ground to have and hold.
As autumn falls, to winter sleep, we pray that somehow in the spring the roots grow deep.

And many years from now, long after we are gone,
These trees will spread their branches out and bless the dawn.

He took a plane to Africa, he gathered up into his arms an orphaned son.
So many years from now, long after we are gone,
This tree will spread its branches out and bless the dawn

Sit down and write that letter, sign up and join the fight, sink into all that matters,
Step out into the light, let go of all that’s passing, lift up the least of these
Lean into something lasting – planting trees

She rises up, as morning breaks, she moves among these rooms alone, before we wake.
And her heart is so full, it overflows, she waters us with love,
And the children grow.

So many years from now, long after we are gone,
These trees will spread their branches out and bless the dawn.
These trees will spread their branches out and bless someone.
- Andrew Peterson CD "Counting Stars"
We just had quite a night with my college girl, K.,... she has her group over every Thursday night, and our curly q niece, R, joins in too - - - so much fun! 
I had lesson plans to write and laundry to put away - I thought I might skip out tonight, but I couldn't stay out of the living room, and somebody had to push food.  And, of course, these are the moments that don't wait.
Many years from now, in this house all alone, more laundry, dishes and lessons will wait, and I will be glad I chose to stop.  There were a few years, I barreled through everything, and rarely stopped to see what my little one was really doing, I am so very thankful, that God changed my viewpoint and put on the brakes several years ago.

I love this song, sometimes on tired late nights, I listen to it, and it reminds me, that all these daily moments are sacred moments.  I want to treasure them.

I just kept thinking,  as they, these college kiddos, were going point and counterpoint about Thomas and Augustine views of moral law -round robin they went - on theology - I just kept thinking -these ones are headed somewhere - amazing.   They will have homes and callings they'll be leading pretty soon - and before they know it - they'll be in my shoes looking back.

I look forward to the days when I get to watch, K and R's trees planting trees - if God gives me that many years.

These trees will spread their branches out and bless someone. 

This is the scripture I pray for my littlest grandone, C.

He is like a tree,
   planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
   and whose leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers,
                             Psalm 1: 3

We don't do it perfectly, we are always falling on His grace, and is only by and through His grace that we even stand - but, when we are faithless, He is faithful because He cannot deny himself.  So thankful for that.

And now on to lesson planning and laundry.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Small Beginnings...

“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.”

William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation
Good to remember going into this season of Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Words

I found a new poem today - "Table Talk".  Of course, its name caught my eye and when I read it - it now ranks with my favorite of Cowper's- God Moves in a Mysterious Way.

Much of it was wittingly scathing in regards to poetry - a fifteen page poem - it read like three. Amazing.
Some of my favorite line sets:

Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend,
And many a compliment politely penn'd;
But, unattired in that becoming vest
Religion weaves for her, and half undress'd,
Stands in the desert shivering and forlorn,
A wintry figure, like a wither'd thorn.
The shelves are full, all other themes are sped;
Hackney'd and worn to the last flimsy thred.

The gift, whose office is the Giver's praise,
To trace him in his word, his works, his ways!
Then spread the rich discovery, and invite
Mankind to share in the divine delight.
Distorted from its use and just design,
To make the pitiful possessor shine,
To purchase at the fool-frequented fair
Of vanity a wreath for self to wear,
Is profanation of the basest kind-
Proof of a trifling and a worthless mind.

'Twould thin the ranks of the poetic tribe,
To dash the pen through all that you proscribe.
No matter-we could shift when they were not;
And should, no doubt, if they were all forgot.

Cowper's wit and words are like barbed velvet.  They entrance and convict me at the same time.

But alas, my all time favorite of lines, unlikely ever to be usurped...

He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessing on your head.

Judge not the Lord in feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

A solid reminder in days of trouble...maybe he was reading Psalm 46

God is our refuge and our strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
  though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
  though its waters roar and foam,
  though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her,
    she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
   he utters his voice and the earth melts.
The Lord of Hosts is with us: 
The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
   how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes war cease to the end of the earth;
   he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
   he burns the chariot with fire.

Be still ...

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Contrary to nature, grace makes all sorrows sweet, and brings it about that a man no longer feels any relish for the things which formerly gave him great relish and delight.  On the other hand, what formerly disgusted him now delights him and is the desire of his heart-for instance weakness, sorrow, inwardness, humility, self-abandonment and detachment from all creatures.  All this is in the highest degree dear to him, when this visitation of the Holy Ghost, grace, has in truth come to him.
-Johannes Tauler(1300-1361)  Light, Life, and Love
This is an excerpt from The Library of AW Tozer.   It is a wonderful book, I picked it up at McKay's, one of our favorite places in town.  It has tiny, little, snippet biographies in the back.  I was trying to put the people in a timeline.  Tauler was German and proceeded Martin Luther by a hundred and fifty years and was well known for his sermons and writings and influenced Martin Luther. Meister Eckhart influenced Tauler, who was 40 years his junior.  Funny, I have never heard the names Tauler or Eckhart, but their lives impacted Luther.  And who hasn't heard of Martin Luther?

The ideas of grace, its theology, is central to how we view our faith.  Where is our faith centered?  What is its affect?  
Irresistible Grace is beautifully stated in Tauler's writing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

He sends Himself -"Jesus with Skin On"...

A friend sent this to me.  It made me cry and laugh at God's goodness and the joy He brings in "hopeless" situation.  I have a tough situation facing me this week, it is not even close to life and death...not on the same plane as these circumstances.  I was reminded while reading this story what my sweet boss, who prays at every turn for everything, says so often, "Sometimes you just need Jesus with skin on". Now thats body life in and by His Spirit!  Seeing God's provision for others reminds me of His providence in All things.
Prayer, persistence and the power of pregnancy centers are the theme of today's message. After speaking at a pregnancy center banquet in Michigan, I was sent this story from Grand Rapids. This amazing story shows what can happen when a 40 Days for Life vigil works with a pregnancy center to save lives that would otherwise become statistics. "This is the day the Lord has made," we read in Psalm 118. "Let us rejoice in it and be glad!" ------------------------------------------------------- GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN ------------------------------------------------------- A visibly upset young woman and her mother had just walked out of the abortion center where the 40 Days for Life vigil is going on -- and walked right up to one of the prayer volunteers. She had been advised to have an abortion because she had difficulties in her life. After a short discussion, the two women seemed interested in the offer of a free ultrasound at a local pregnancy care center. But there were two challenges. First of all, it was 8:30 in the morning -- and the pregnancy center wouldn’t open til 9:00. The volunteers decided to take the young woman and her mom to breakfast; that would help them settle down a bit, and it would let them wait until the doors were open at the pregnancy center. The second challenge seemed a bit more formidable. While an ultrasound MACHINE was available, there might not be an ultrasound TECHNICIAN available. So they all went to the pregnancy center to wait -- and pray. Within the hour, another couple arrived at the abortion center. They had been told to abort their baby because of possible disabilities. They had doubts about going through with it -- so they, too, were offered a free ultrasound. "Can you get us that ultrasound right now?" the couple asked. About the same time, yet another couple arrived for an appointment. They had significant financial challenges -- and they, too, had been encouraged to abort. "And yes," said the volunteer, "couple number three also wanted a free ultrasound." Meanwhile, back at the pregnancy center, a car had entered the parking lot. None of the volunteers recognized the car. A woman got out. They didn't recognize her, either. She walked over and introduced herself. "I'm an ultrasound tech and I have nothing to do today," she said. "Do you know of anyone that could use my skills?" "Seriously!" said the volunteer. "Just like that!" Three young women saw ultrasound images of their babies that day. And despite all the reasons each had been encouraged to abort -- they each chose life for their children. Each of these mothers has a long road ahead and many challenges to overcome. But they’ve taken a wonderful first step. Please keep them in your prayers, and ask Christ to guide them on their way. "Before I knew the difficulties of this day, God had planned for our needs to be met," said the 40 Days for Life vigil participant. "Three couples who had planned on ending their babies' lives today are still pregnant tonight. Praise God!" She added that the overwhelming feeling "is one of both personal humility and awe for our God who did so much today. What a blessing! We praise and honor the Creator tonight. He has done marvelous things!"
Link to the 40 day devotional

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Redemption through the mud and muck...

Isaiah 43

Israel’s Only Savior

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.

I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."
Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
 All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true.
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD,
"and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.

 I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and I am God.
Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?"
Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"For your sake I send to Babylon
and bring them all down as fugitives,
even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King."

Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
 "Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.

 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.

"Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
 You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,
or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
or wearied you with frankincense.
You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.

"I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
Put me in remembrance; let us argue together;
set forth your case, that you may be proved right.
 Your first father sinned,
and your mediators transgressed against me.
Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary,
and deliver Jacob to utter destruction
and Israel to reviling.

Put me in remembrance....

Do you ever journal prayers?  I do, often it is in times of transition when I don't understand where God is leading us, leading E.  I read a prayer this morning that I had written a handful of years ago, and had to smile.  I can say without exception, which shouldn't surprise me, yet, it always does, God is faithful to answer my requests more fully than I ever imagine. 

I look forward to looking back on this time, so I can see just what it is the Lord is doing, or at least to the parts that I am privy to.  What wonder is it to trust a God that loves us so intimately...Who deals with us tenderly and faithfully through the mud and muck of this world.

In every home, in every neighborhood, in every town or city, in every state, in every country, on each continent, God is there, not just waiting, not just watching, but loving, and working, and directing, and holding His beloved creation in His able hands.  Bringing us to redemption, reconciling those who are called to Himself, restoring to grandeur what was fallen, lost but never abandoned.

The twist of my brain, and tugs on my heart leave me longing to see God...I imagine when we are in heaven, we will sit around table laden with truly good food, we will tell of His goodness and then we will  unfold the stories of His wondrous work of our redemption.  His light will overwhelm us, and we will know fully His goodness.