22 February 2009

Sunrise at the Church of Sunshine and Solitude

I'm sitting in the backyard of a friend's house. It's Sunday - and church today for me is a beautiful, delicate moment of sunshine and solitude. A little scripture-reading, the Nichole Nordeman channel on Pandora, and some hot tea blend together for a precious time.

"Sunrise" by Nichole Nordeman means much to me this morning as I think about this season. For David and his family, for Courtney and Ryan, for Amy and Mark and the girls, for JuJu...

If I had the chance
To go back again
Take a different road, bear a lighter load
Tell an easy story

I would walk away
With my yesterdays
And I would not trade what is broken for beauty only

Every valley
Every bitter chill
Made me ready to climb back up the hill
And find that . . .

You are sunrise
You are blue skies
How would I know the morning
If I knew not midnight?

You’re my horizon
You’re the light of a new dawn
So thank You, thank You
That after the long night, You are sunrise

There’s a moment when
Faith caves in
There’s a time when every soul is certain God is gone

But every shadow is evidence of sun
And every tomorrow holds out hope for us
For every one of us

You are sunrise
You are blue skies
How would I know the morning
If I knew not midnight?

You’re my horizon
You’re the light of a new dawn
So thank You, thank You
That after the long night, You are sunrise

You alone will shine
You alone can resurrect this heart of mine

You are sunrise
You are blue skies
How would I know the morning
If I knew not midnight?

You’re my horizon
You’re the light of a new dawn
So thank You, thank You
That after the long night, You are sunrise

You are sunrise

19 February 2009

Late Night in My Head.

I’ve been asked before “exactly what goes on in that head of yours?” So tonight, as I snuggle up with my pup in our quiet house, I thought I would simply write down a few thoughts as I slowly fade to slumber. Note that there really isn’t any rhyme or reason to the order – much like real life. But as in all things, there is purpose.

As of late, I have been blessed to experience the heart-breaking joy of serving a friend who is dying. It is a most humbling honor. Taking out trash, filling the dishwasher, running the vacuum cleaner – all have a special meaning now. I have a newfound appreciation of Smoothie King and Sonic ice. I understand the scripture “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” in a whole new way. And I think a Coke float may be the most beautiful meal in the world.

I am in awe of people who simply love Jesus. I can do passion, I can do enthusiasm. But simple is tough.

If I could, I would give each member of my family and each one of my friends something far more valuable than a gift that money can buy. I would wrap up an experience for each of them – a little moment in time that would reveal grandeur and delicate and big and little and awe.
• Hug an orphan in a foreign land.
• Get caught in a rainstorm. In a jeep. With the top down.
• Go four-wheeling in the mud in the piney woods of Texas.
• Watch a sunset sitting on the rock wall at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City.
• Sit quietly in the midst of the snow in the Rockies and just listen – the sound is a symphony.
• Drive fast – really fast- along the PCH.
• Lie on the grass and look at the sky – and then imagine letting go and falling up into it.
• Stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon and watch the colors change as the sun sets on the rocks.
• Sit on a moonlit beach in Mexico as the waves crash and the tide rolls in.

I think I like wedding photos best of all; especially candid photos that capture a joyful or tender moment – or dancing. Oh, to dance.

What if, in this life, I am meant to be a conduit or a catalyst? What if I never again personally experience the opportunity to care for orphans or serve the poor – what if my purpose going forward is to connect other people to the ministry I love so? Could I be thankful for a life lived “in the wings?” I pray the answer would be “yes!"

I am amazed that the God of the universe, the God that created time but isn't bound by it, would find it important to intimately love and design a specific purpose for a life that is but a vapor. Thank You. Thank You so very much.

06 February 2009

From the only thing to the most important thing.

I've been praying a lot lately - for so many people, so many things. Friends in financial crisis, friends waging war against ravaging diseases, friends struggling to focus in the midst of difficulties. Our country, our leaders, the innocent caught in the cross-fire. Those I love, those I know, and those I have yet to meet. I've fallen asleep whispering prayers and been awakened in the middle of the night by cries to Heaven. Prayer has moved from a last-ditch "the only thing I can do" position to "the most important thing I can do." And I've been asking people to join me in the journey - most recently for a precious friend who is battling cancer.

My sweet Alisha sent this message by Max Lucado to me, as a gentle reminder to stay the course, even when the road looks dark. As I sit and listen to Mindy Smith's "Down in Flames," which reflects on difficult days and saving hope, I rest in the power of prayer. Thanks 'Lish for the reminder.

When You Speak, God Hears
by Max Lucado

Those who pray keep alive the watch fires of faith. For the most part we don't even know their names. Such is the case of someone who prayed on a day long ago. His name is not important. He is important not because of who he was, but because of what he did.

He went to Jesus on behalf of a friend. His friend was sick, and Jesus could help, and someone needed to go to Jesus, so someone went. Others cared for the sick man in other ways. Some brought food; others provided treatment; still others comforted the family. Each role was crucial. Each person was helpful, but no one was more vital than the one who went to Jesus.

John writes: "So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick'" (John 11:3, emphasis mine).

Someone carried the request. Someone walked the trail. Someone went to Jesus on behalf of Lazarus. And because someone went, Jesus responded.

In the economy of heaven, the prayers of saints are a valued commodity. John the apostle would agree. He wrote the story of Lazarus and was careful to show the sequence: The healing began when the request was made.

The phrase the friend of Lazarus used is worth noting. When he told Jesus of the illness, he said, "The one you love is sick." The power of the prayer, in other words, does not depend on the one who makes the prayer but on the one who hears the prayer.

We can and must repeat the phrase in manifold ways. "The one you love is tired, sad, hungry, lonely, fearful, depressed." The words of the prayer vary, but the response never changes. The Savior hears the prayer. He silences heaven so he won't miss a word. The Master heard the request. Jesus stopped whatever he was doing and took note of the man's words. This anonymous courier was heard by God.
John's message is critical. You can talk to God because God listens. Your voice matters in heaven. He takes you very seriously. When you enter his presence, the attendants turn to you to hear your voice. No need to fear that you will be ignored. Even if you stammer or stumble, even if what you have to say impresses no one, it impresses God--and he listens.

Intently. Carefully. The prayers are honored as precious jewels. Purified and empowered, the words rise in a delightful fragrance to our Lord. "The smoke from the incense went up from the angel's hand to God" (Rev. 8:4). Incredible. Your words do not stop until they reach the very throne of God.

One call and heaven's fleet appears. Your prayer on earth activates God's power in heaven.

You are the someone of God's kingdom. Your prayers move God to change the world. You may not understand the mystery of prayer. You don't need to. But this much is clear: Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth. What an amazing thought!

When you speak, Jesus hears.
And when Jesus hears, the world is changed.
All because someone prayed.

03 February 2009

October 1949

"I have prayed for new men, fiery, reckless men, possessed of uncontrollably youthful passion--these lit by the Spirit of God. I have prayed for new words, explosive, direct, simple words. I have prayed for new miracles. Explaining old miracles will not do. If God is to be known as the God who does wonders in heaven and earth, then God must produce for this generation. Lord, fill preachers and preaching with Thy power. How long dare we go on without tears, without moral passions, hatred and love? Not long, I pray, Lord Jesus, not long." -Jim Elliot

Fifty years have passed since Elliot penned that prayer in his journal.
I pray today that there are "Jim Elliot"s still in this world, ready to truly lay it all down for the sake of the cross. And I pray I may be brave enough to be counted as one of them.

01 February 2009

A great quote - and reminder.

"In Western culture, we are so pragmatically and entrepreneurially driven that we tend to overlook the lines throughout history that have fallen into place for us to arrive at where we are today. We think it just happened. It hasn't" - Walking from East to West by Ravi Zacharias.