Sunday, March 31, 2013


What a day!

Aside from the eggs and the chocolate and the new dresses (does anybody do that anymore?) the phrase drums thru my being over and over:


And if you were a 1st century Christian, you would answer me, "HE IS RISEN, INDEED!"

Because it's true.  Just think about that:  He is risen, in deed.  In deed.  The deed is done.  Someone Who laid for 72 hours without a heartbeat, still and cold and ripped to shreds, wound about with approximately 100 pounds of spices and linen, rose in a body that had been reCreated, able to rise straight through the pounds of spice and linen without disturbing a molecule of them.  He had fallen into the ground a seed, and arose into something we can't even fathom: a resurrection Body.  The same kind we will one day have!

And His followers - who for 3 days had hidden together, afraid that they were next, bewildered and sick at heart, saying over and over to themselves, "how could this HAPPEN!!??", feeling a grief so deep it defied words - to them it was too good to be true.  Befuddled, stunned, as the women kept telling them they'd seen Him, He was alive!  ALIVE!  They'd talked to Him.  It was truly Him.

And their stunned broken hearts struggled to believe.

Then, finally, He slipped thru the closed, locked, barred doors as easily as He'd slipped thru the grave clothes, and "stood suddenly in their midst."

The room that had seconds before been filled with talk and wondering and asking each other if the Pharisees had put out arrest warrants on them and then - Poof!-



Mouths agape.

Faces paled.


He was there.

He had to talk to them, gently, to His frightened children, gently "y'got anything to eat? Drink?  I'm not a ghost guys,"  (my translation)

And in my mind's eye I hear His teasing tone, see them begin to relax, begin to see the truth of Who is before them, see the wonder and awe beginning to sink in.


And He shows them how He told them ahead of time it would happen.  He promised He wouldn't leave them as orphans, promised them the Holy Spirit to come, promised them He would see them in Galilee and then -Poof!-  He was gone the same way He'd come.

And they were left staring at one another, mumbling "It's true!  It's all true!" over and over.  "He was really here!  It really was Jesus!  It really truly was!"

And their eyes were filled with tears, and their throats clogged with joy, and their hearts overflowing...


How the words thundered in their hearts, how they shouted it to one another, clapping each other on their shoulders, laughing with the joy of it, crying with the truth of it, wonder filling their souls.



And so I say to you, my brother, my sister, with tears in my eyes, and joy clogging my throat, laughing with the joy of it, crying with the truth of it, my heart filled with wonder:

"It's true!  It's all true!  HE IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN AS HE SAID!"

Happy, Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Songs in the Night Job 35:10

During the time when the pain wins, and rules the night hours, time actually stretches.  One puny minute contains enough time for endless agony - and in the dark of night, everything is endless.

Tonight is such a night.  Pain stalks my movements, my thoughts.  And no, it is not agony enough to send me to the hospital - but neither is it mild enough to be ignored or lulled and dulled into submission by even the strongest of medications.  It is a night to endure.

At times like these, I seek solace for my soul. Sometimes in the Word, spending time with Job and David.
Sometimes it is with song lyrics that comfort and strengthen.  Sometimes it is songs that He has given me, and sometimes it is in the songs He has given others.

One of my favorite wordsmiths is Annie Johnson Flint. She is someone I look forward to meeting.  Annie lived in the late 19th-early 20th century.  A woman who loved children and teaching, by the age of 21 she was so crippled by arthritis that she spent the next 50+ years in a wheelchair.  Not the cushy ones of today, mind you, but the hard-seated clumsy contraptions of her era.

While Annie's body was so confined, her spirit could never be shackled.  What she called her "little poems" brought hope and cheer to thousands of people, a fact which never ceased to amaze her.  She did what she could, and offered it to the One Who breaks the bread and feeds thousands with it. And He did.

Well, tonight she fed me.

Here are 3 of her poems that nestled me into His arms, and poured sweet music into my soul:

He Giveth More
James 4:6 "He giveth more grace"
Isa 40:20 "He increaseth strength"
Jude 2  "mercy unto you, and grace, and love, be multiplied."

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

Songs in the Night   Job 3510

We make our songs in the day of our gladness,
When life is all laughter and joy and delight,
When never a shadow has clouded our sunshine;
But God giveth songs in the night.

He giveth songs in the night of our sorrow,
When tears are our drink and when grief is our meat,
When we silence our weeping and still our repining
To list to those cadences sweet,

He giveth songs in the night of affliction
When earth has no sun and the heavens no star;
Like a comforting touch in the desolate darkness
His voice stealeth in from afar.

He giveth songs - and His music is sweeter
Than of earth's greatest voices and gladdest refrains;
Our loveliest melodies shade to the minor,
But His keep their full major strains.

He giveth songs when our music is over -
When our voices falter and our tongues are mute;
When trembling hands drop from the lute and the harp strings
And hushed are the viol and flute

Give us Thy songs, O Thou Maker of music!
Teach us to sing, O Thou Bringer of joy!
Till nothing can silence the notes of our triumphs
And naught our rejoicing destroy.

Hold Thou My Hand

Hold Thou my hand, O Lord, nor loose Thy clasp
Though weaker, weaker, grows my feeble grasp;
Though courage fail me and my faith is small,
Be Thou my strength, my hope, my faith, my all -
                              Hold Thou my hand!

Hold Thou my hand, O Lord, nor heed my tears,
When torn by torturing doubts, beset by fears,
I murmur that I cannot walk with Thee,
I cannot drink the cup poured out for me;
                              Still hold my hand!

Hold Thou my hand, O Lord; no light o'er head
Shows me the path my faltering feet must tread;
To what far depths of darkness and of woe
Might I not fall if Thou shouldst let me go?
                              Lord, hold my hand!

Hold Thou my hand; let me not feel alone;
Through stress and trial safely bring Thine own;
Oh, let Thy sure, unchanging clasp impart
Unwavering trust unto my fainting heart;
                                 Hold Thou my hand!

Hold Thou my hand; that tireless sleep means strength,
Patience, and peace, and blessing, till at length
My storm-tossed soul can calmly take its way,
And need no longer in such anguish pray,
                               "Lord, hold my hand!"


In my times of sleeplessness, of aching body and head, longing for the freedom and perfection of our resurrection body -right now, please! - I read the words of a woman who suffered more than I could dream of .  And the peace she found, the solace in His presence that is a gift in itself, communicates itself to me and soothes the troubled surface of my soul, quieting the rippling turmoil as I wait for the endless pain to ease enough for sleep.  In her words I see a familiar face - the Face of the One Who sings songs in the night and holds his aching children in Everlasting Arms, enfolding us in His love.

Thank you, Miss Annie, for keeping me company tonight.

And thank You, My Lord, for bringing the words of Your servant into my life and heart - for such a night as this..

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Confessions of an idol worshipper

I have been thinking today about what being a Christian really means.

I have been praying He would strip away the boring, self-centered stuff that doesn't mean anything, and open me up - enable me to worship Him with my whole heart.

In answer to that, several books have entered my life at this precise moment in time.  God doesn't mess around.

His death in exchange for our eternities.

His death for our unsanitized souls.

My unsanitized soul.

I don't usually think of myself in worthless terms.  I am educated, thoughtful (hopefully) and prayerful.  I am also stubborn, selfish, guilty of idol worship, and wax and wane in my devotion to the One Who gave it all.  I live in a clean, safe house, with a place to (frequently) lay my head.  Everything I have has come from Him.

and yet...

I rarely think of everything I have as actually coming from Him.  I think in terms of paychecks and payouts from insurance companies.  In terms of what things I need for my existence, and what things I want,( what things I can give to delight someone else, yes, but even that is selfish, in a way - I certainly wouldn't spend hours making something for someone who wouldn't enjoy it.)

All this to say I am hungering for more of Him, for more of Someone Who is actually, certifiably Pure, Holy, and at His very essence, Love.  The gap between us is so huge the Grand Canyon would fit in that gap 1-followed-by-all-the-zeros-in-the-world times.

The gap is uncrossable.

Because He is so different, so far above, so indescribably other than what I am.

The word that describes me is sinner.

I have broken every single law He ever made - because to be guilty in one is to be guilty in all. And the first commandment is the one broken most of all:  "I am the LORD thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before Me."  None.  Nada. Zip. No idols.

Now, when I say "idol worshipper", no doubt you instantly imagine an exotic foreign land and people burning incense and bowing before some figure - the same way I thought of it. 

But it started me thinking about the definition of an idol or god, and the spotlight glared full force into my eyes - caught, red handed.

For to sin at all, something or someone has to be of greater value to me than He is, or I would never choose it.  And that thing of greatest value is : another god.  A god I placed in rank above Him.

An idol.

I was shocked.  And shamed.  And started feeling so separated, so hopelessly less than He is, so hopelessly sinning merrily away and never realizing that each sin was not only breaking the law, but a slap in His face.

And for this, for this hopelessly sinful creature, He gave it all.  An excruciatingly painful death after a lifetime of being misunderstood, disbelieved, thought wacko, called illegitimate, owning nothing, disrespected, denigrated, envied and hated, and used for the things He could give - healing and sometimes food.

Now, think about this list.  How hard it is for us to be misunderstood.  If someone doubts our honesty.  Treats us like we've lost a few marbles. Calls our mom's chastity into question.  Laughs at us.  Looks down on us.  Makes fun of us.  Spews hatred at us.  Uses us. Spits in our faces. And then after all that, He hung for 6 hours on a cross, stark naked.


He didn't just have a fun time and then give it all up.  From the moment of birth in horribly uncomfortable circumstances into a life of poverty and difficulty and then into itinerant preaching - harming no one, yet being hated by all the powers of the earth - His whole life was part of the cross.  Showing us how the Father cares for us no matter what the circumstances.  Showing us by living all the uncomfortable nasty circumstances of His time with joy and trust.  He not only conquered death, He conquered Life!

I could never measure up, never be worthy, never go even one day without sin.

I came before Him, then.  I asked Him to show me, through tears, how He could love me enough to do all this - for me.  What, really, did I mean to Him.

His answer confused me at first - I suddenly was thinking of Fiddler on the Roof!

What is this? I thought.  I can't even pay attention in prayer for a split second?

And then I saw it.

When Tevye's daughter falls in love with the poor tailor, Tevye turns to tradition - laws - to rail against the match.

And then he sings, "But look at my daughter's eyes..." And the lens zooms in for a close-up of hopeful eyes, full of love.

And then He said to me "look at My daughter's eyes" - at that moment streaming with tears.  He was calling me His daughter, calling me tenderly, calling me with the love of a Father for His daughter, calling me with open Arms.

That is what I really, honestly, truthfully mean to Him.  He knows all the dirt and scum that still clings to my soul - but He doesn't see it.  He sees the total purity, holiness, and worthiness of the One Who took my place on the other side of the gap.  And I - I am in His arms.

So if  you are feeling "less than", for any reason from realizing how filled with sin you are to sometimes wondering what God really thinks about you, remember God sees you.  He sees deep into your soul, into that place where you feel alone and not worthy of much of anything, falling time after time into the same puddle of mud. He knows you, every cell in your body.  And He looks deep into your eyes, and calls you His child.  HIS child.  He is not ashamed to be known as your Father.  He rejoices in it!

And at that moment you will realize, as I did, really realize, and fall face down before Him when you do:

I am a child of the King.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Caleb, the son of Jephunneh

March 14th- Joshua 16-18
15th- Josh 19-22
16th-Josh 23-24
17th -Judges1-2 
18th - Judges 3-5
19th - Judges 6-7
20th - Judges 8-9

Early morning hours reading in the book of Joshua, chapter 14 we bump into Caleb again, the Lion-heart of Numbers 14, the spy that dutifully reported the land was, indeed filled with giants, but it was also an exceedingly good land.  "If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land, for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD  is with us: fear them not."

Caleb is not only not worried about the outcome, he knows it is not the people of Israel against the giants and peoples of the land, it is the God of Israel against the giants and peoples of the land - huge difference!  He's saying " Come on, guys, this is a piece of cake!  God keeps His promises!  We can do this!"

45 years later, he is still persuading with his faith front and center.  Only now he is 85 years old.  He has been in the desert for 40 years, and dispossessing kings and hordes from the land before Israel for five more.

And all this time, he has been dreaming of the land he saw - the mountains of Hebron, where the Anakim, the giants lived - the most difficult of all the inheritances to conquer.  The others had said that after seeing the Anakim, "we became as grasshoppers in our own sight."

What does Caleb say to all this? (my paraphrasing here) " Joshua, you know how the LORD sent us out to spy, and the others made the hearts of the people melt with fear - but I wholly followed the LORD, and He promised me where the soles of my feet trod, that was my inheritance. I was 40 years old then. And, yes, I am 85  years old today, because the LORD kept me alive these 45 years - and yet, I'm as strong for war today as I was then! Soooo, give me this mountain that the LORD promised me that day - and yes the Anakim are there, the cities are great and fortified - but if the LORD will be with me, I'll be able to drive them out." 


The only condition that concerned Caleb was "...if the LORD be with me..."  He knew God would keep His word.  He knew Hebron would be his.

So how did this all turn out?  Did Caleb get his land?

Joshua 14:14 reads:
"Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb, son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that He wholly followed the LORD God of Israel."

I've been thinking about that in these early morning hours.  Am I following Him wholly?  Or are the Anakim of my life making me "become as a grasshopper in my own eyes?"  If I am allowing anything to be put on the shelf and not pursued because of fear, I am saying that the Anakim are stronger than God, able to fight Him and win - because the LORD our God is with us wherever we go.  Caleb's lion-heart came not because he was a positive thinker, or figured he had enough men to conquer anything - Caleb's lion-heart came from knowing that the LORD God of Israel could not lie; he knew God would go before him, and fight for him.

And He would win.

So how trustful am I?  Are the things facing me overwhelming me into grasshopper status?

Or is there a lion-heart pounding in my chest right now, ready to follow Him wholly - no holding back, trust front and foremost, knowing He has already won, and nothing and no one can crush the power of the cross, the power of the Blood, the power of Jesus, the Christ, the Annointed.

And dear one - what is pounding in your chest?  It doesn't matter if our bodies are ill.  The power never rested in us.  It rests in Him.

Anakim, watch out!