Friday, April 24, 2015

"I AM Tunes"

Psalm  42:8 "The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life." 

How do you hear the Lord's wisdom in your life, His direction, His love, His truth? How has He put things together, led you to the right people and places, given you insight?

He has given us a gift, the Helper, Counselor. We received Him, the Holy Spirit, the third Divine person of the Trinity, when we first believed in our heart that Jesus's plan is good and full of grace.

In this age of electronics and easy access, our world is a bit noisier with bells and whistles, alarms and reminders, ring tones and ear buds.  Music is easily accessed after a brief search and click of our devices.

What if God sang to us--literally out loud--with musical prompts? 

I came to this thought while listening to a speaker today at a training workshop for teachers. He incorporates a lot of  "music" instead of words to prompt his students towards a specific task. It's fun and it works!

While we might be playing the "Mission Impossible" theme in our head, God sends us the theme song from "Man of La Mancha,"  "To Dream The Impossible Dream!"

When we're facing fear, God sends us a "Gonna Fly Now," (The theme from "Rocky").

If You're feeling sad: "Happy" by Pharrell Williams

Maybe I just want to know if God really loves little ol' me, even with all my mishaps, goof-ups, my ugliness...And suddenly I hear  (You're  Amazing) ..."Just The Way You Are," (Bruno Mars).

Are you listening?  I think He truly does send us a prompt of beautiful love songs to encourage, teach and inspire us. The melody awakes us in the morning in the sunrise of His sovereign plan, it hums along with us as we hustle through our daily routines. The beat sets a course for our lives and we walk in motion to His rhythm, feeling the pulse in our own veins. Yes, He is our Grand Conductor, our Symphony Synchronizer, our Trumpeter, our Concerto Creator and our Love Lullaby. Whatever our particular song mix or genre is, God lyrics in His Holy Orchestration, His Word, inspire us to dance and move in His grace.

I took this picture of "Mickey" last week. Maybe that's you. You're standing tall trying to orchestrate your own life but really, you're blocking out the sun...THE SON!  Your life seems stuck in the shadows.

Put your "baton" of your own agenda down. Listen to the music of His love and grace. Let it fill you with notes of worthiness and forgiveness. Let it move your feet to dance and let it soothe you to rest.  He longs to write a song just for you because you inspired Him--to die on a cross and rise again, a song of transformation!  Let Him do the same for you, follow His prompts. Listen and see His glory all around you, above this noisy world! See what plays out, what unique and beautiful harmony you and God can make. (Have I mentioned my back-up singers?)  

Lord, thank you for making a beautiful song for my heart. Whenever I need Your encouragement, need to feel Your grace, know Your forgiveness and direction, be assured of Your sovereign plan, I know I can tune-in to Your "Voice," listen and hear a Song of Love, for you have created a Play-list just for me: "I AM Tunes," free, bought-and-paid-for downloads for the asking!  Thank you Lord.

(...and then the butterfly shows up on this picture I googled...God is Good!) 

Friday, April 10, 2015

All It Takes Is Three Words

Luke 10:20 "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven."

Jesus, the Teacher, the Truth Teller, Holy Son of God,  the Messiah,  gave instructions to a group of his followers, about 70 of them. Given authority and power, they were told to mingle, to go out amongst the towns, the cities, to be grateful and to convert those to the Kingdom, to share the Hope. Jesus knew that they would face some negative attitudes, disrespect, out right unbelief and possibly persecution. He told them not to have fear.  He knew the ending. Jesus always sees the bigger picture, the Harvest, the many that need to know, need to hear, need to believe.

We sing the song, "Give me Your eyes, Lord..." But do we really want to see?

Today, I saw the movie, "Do You Believe?" --A powerful story of how lives become interconnected in a few days and how God can use a few faithful to spark a difference.

It was a movie... ( a well-done, inspiring and encouraging movie, I may add, with some well known actors).

Our world is smaller now because of technology, yet really, we take on more, see more because of technology. It can be is overwhelming to me just in the first 10 minutes of the nightly news!  What did this movie contain that we see in every day lives around us?

Grief, criminal behavior, lack of a father figure, stage 4 cancer, cynical and arrogant attitudes, ungratefulness, desperation, loneliness, stress, fear, uncertainty in a future, unwed mothers, childless couples, lawsuits, "political correctness", selfish attitudes, guilt,  homelessness, hunger, greed, power, war and its after affects, suicidal thoughts...death.

What part of this is not real in today's world?  If we really had the "eyes of Jesus..." wouldn't we be in tears and torment all the time for this world, for our neighbors, for our own families?  Can you love and forgive in a moment?

I can't. Not in my own strength...

Jesus instructed these 70 "do not rejoice" that I overcome the world.  He wanted the "rejoicing" to come in the Harvest. He wanted these disciples to focus on the fact that they were not a part of the world, but  a part of His plan. He wanted the rejoicing to take place when new names are written in His Book of Life. He reminded them that the Harvest was plentiful, the harvesters...few.

We can spend a lot of time, rejoicing, praying, thanking Him for His provisions, His protections, His mercy and grace...and that's all good, but don't miss someone who needs to know this same Hope.

...Give me your eyes, Lord.

The message of the movie came from the scripture: James 2:17 "Even so, faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself."

I write this as a challenge to myself, to you, to Believers. This world needs the Hope of the Risen Savior.  In sharing the Gospel, you will encounter serpents and scorpions.  Leave the scary stuff to One who overcomes and step into your faith with action.  Play out the script He wrote long ago, you as His "extra."

Let's be a Harvester. Let's rejoice together when another name is written in the Book of Life and we were able to be a part of that through the workings of the Holy Spirit. There just might be an asterisk after that name,  or maybe a hashtag...who knows?

 * my faithful servant...____your name ___________shared with this precious one.

#savedbythefaithfultestimonyof____your name ________.

My friend Christina upon exiting the theater,  asked the young man employee waiting to clean-up,

"Do you believe?"

He smiled and said, "Yes, I do."

Way to go, Christina!  Only God knows His heart.  After he gets off work tonight, he just may make a decision to not attend a certain "party" or he may apologize to his mother for being rude, or he may just show up at a church service the Sunday after Easter...continuing the search for what stirred him up last week...

It took three words..."Do you believe?"

Roll the credits:  forgiveness, unconditional love, grace, mercy, plans for a hope, not depair, Heaven!

Lord, you've saved me and in that I am most grateful, yet with that saving comes a great responsibility. You've called us to plant the seeds for the Harvest to come. You've shown us how and given us the authority and power to do just that. You've given us strength and courage. Why are so many of us still on the continuum of receiving, when we should be giving? Lord, you've granted us gifts. Show us as we pray how to use those gifts in Your Harvest.  Lord, give us the focus and the eyes to see as You do Lord, as You do Lord. Break our hearts for what breaks Yours, and let it not be me in disobedience to Your calling. Amen.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Distant or Redeemed?

Luke 22:54  "And having arrested Him, they led Him away, and brought Him to the house of the High Priest; but Peter was following at a distance.  

Today is Good Friday. And why is it "Good?"  

One may answer in many ways. 

..."because it's payday,    

         ..."because, --Whoo-hoo, it's Spring Break!"  
                        ..."because I just found some cute shoes on sale!"

In Christendom, "Good Friday" names the day Christ placed Himself on the Cross and our sins onto His shoulders. He hung his thorned-pressed brow and bled out. He pushed Himself up long enough to communicate His love to a thief next to Him and to give instructions to His Apostle John, and others. He released His last breath and lowered Himself when He knew God's Will was done. It's the day, two days out from THE DAY! 

 It is "Good" because we are not. It is "Good" because of His Great Love for us, is "Good" because this Holy moment brings us back into a relationship with God and restores us into His purpose. 

Yet some of us, like Peter did for a brief, weak moment, still follow Him at a distance. Now these moments have turned to years. 

The lyrics of "The Old Rugged Cross" are revived one more time, although its a little harder to remember them; a dusty Bible is located, and a seat is found near the exit. Maybe you'll attend a sunrise service. You squint and a shiver in the morning breeze, thinking about the ham and what time it needs to go in the oven.  

We get close again for an hour or so, just long enough to read and sing, but not infuse the red letters on the crispy pages, to wear the new shoes that are already forming a blister, to hear the story of the Resurrection but fail to see the empty tomb in our own heart chambers. 

Knees are un-calloused; hands are smooth, kept in pockets and on devices. God calls from the splintered Tree of His own creation, seeing you near, but you keep your distance, your comfortable place, your routine, your fears, your burdens, your complaints...your excuses.  

You haven't denied Him. You've always been a Believer, well sort of... there evidence of that?  Forgiveness frees us to draw close.

And that IS your fear...the judgment. And that is Your comfort zone...staying at a distance, away from those that can hurt. And that is your complaint...time and money and sacrifice...and that is your burden...a lack of purpose, of true JOY, of Your Destiny as His Child! 

God is near. Christ is here, resurrected, the Redeemer! Grab His nail-pierced hand and take Him home with you. Don't keep your distance any longer. Ask Him to show you how to stay close, how to not wander, how to begin to leave evidence that you belong to Him, to see His Amazing Grace! 

In a momentary admission of your need for Him, He will pour His love out again. There is no condemnation. He begins to remove the obstacles, dusting off your name written so many years ago in His Book of Life. The scriptures will once again become alive, filled with all the wonderful blessings He planned for you. You've come close before, you've met, you've felt His love for you.  Can you feel Him again? His loves bridges all the ways you distanced yourself from Him. If we could see it, it is shaped like a Cross; kneel again. 

Jesus forgave Peter and He became the Rock of the Church. He forgave you in the same way. Calvary is paved with stepping stones poured from His own blood. In each step of faith, His Light begins to diminish your fears, your burdens. "Belief" becomes a powerful promise. HOPE--embraceable! It's no longer distant, no longer unattainable. 

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Don't place Him back in the cold, distant tomb! 

                                  He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!  

Lord, Help us to cherish the Old Rugged Cross, to not grow distant from you, but to serve You and give You worship in every part of our lives. Help us Lord to draw close to You and then cling to You for all our needs, for all Your plans. You took that Crown of Thorns, the piercing spikes, the wretched beatings and humiliation. You carry the burden of our sin so that we may live eternally and receive a crown, a Crown of Everlasting Life!  Hallelujah! Help us Lord to be strong in a world which wants to deny Your Deity, Your sovereign Truth. Help us to live each day as if it is Good Friday/Easter; with the knowledge that we are not worthy, but because of Your blood on the Cross, --Christ Crucified, You reign right here, in our hearts. Thank You for living in my heart, undeniably close in every breath, and I give You praise for this great Love. You are my hope,  Amen.