Tag Archives: mission

Forgiver

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And I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way You love us. O how He loves us.

How He Loves. John Mark McMillan.

I was not expecting to blog about the night, so I only had my iPhone for pictures.

Last night Super Friend Kristen and I went to Glen Eyrie Castle for a worship event.  (Our husbands stayed home together with the little ones to, as Dreamy Scott says, watch Tim Tebow resurrect the Broncos franchise and bring hope to millions.)   Fike and Dana (friends, worship pastors, Integrity artists & songwriters) invited us to be a part of a special night in their ministry.  This event honored the union of Integrity Music with David C. Cook Ministries – a marriage of two luminous ministries. A sea of songwriters and worship leaders cleared a space for an intimate knot of God-seekers to invest 2 and a half hours in sacred praise.  Fike and Dana, Jon Egan, Glenn Packiam, Brad Parsley, Jared Anderson, Travis Ryan, Kathryn Scott, Jennie Lee Riddle, Paul Baloche, Leslie Morgan, and more and more and more.  We gathered in a small room. Every seat occupied by a soul raised in wholehearted worship.

Fike, Dana & Travis Ryan leading worship, while I snuck iPhone pictures from the back of the room.

I wept when Fike and Dana, alongside Travis Ryan, led us in worship. My heart brims over with sweet delight as I see God raise up my friends to a precious role that fulfills their anointing. We went to honor our soul knit friends. We experienced more than we came for. (Isn’t that what happens when we access Infinity?) We received bone deep renewal.

Glenn Packiam spoke a simple devotion in the midst of the night. A blind man, Bartimaeus, sat by the roadside, begging. Bartimaeus heard rumors about Jesus, rumors that whispered, Messiah?  Promised Son of David?  Can it be? Jesus, the heart-seer, acknowledged the blind beggar.  What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked Bartimaeus (Mark 10:51).  Glenn made a profound point.  Bartimaeus had a choice. He could have responded with a practical request. Money. Food. A home.

Instead, he asked for a Miracle. He asked for something divine, a request that could only be fulfilled by the Messiah.

The blind man said, Rabbi, I want to see. (Mark 10:51).

Glenn challenged us. When was the last time we asked God for something only He can give? Something celestial. Something worthy of God.

I feel a shaking in my spirit.  A dividing line.  What do you want me to do for you?  He asks me.

I kneel as we fall into worship again.  Lord, for what shall I ask You?  You invite me to ask for a God-sized dream.  I could ask for a practical request.  The advancement of my calling, the resolution of professional troubles at Jaxon Engineering, a baby.  I am Bartimaeus, blind to so much of my world.  Lord, open my eyes to Your glory.  For what shall I ask?

It shoots across my mind like a bullet.  Forgiver.

Worship surrounds me, overcomes me.  I am on my knees.  Forgiver?  I ponder what it means.  And it slays me.  Child, if you will ask, I will answer.  

So, reeling, I pray.  Lord, make me a forgiver.  A releaser.  Give me this rare gift.  Make my heart slippery, so that it cannot hold onto regret and bitterness, so that all the fallout of fallenness against me slides away into the ocean of your grace.  Open my clenched fists.  Make me a grace-giver, like You.  

Shaken by truth, God-thoughts invade me.  What if Forgiver becomes my name?  What if I just choose, today and forever, to be a Forgiver, a Releaser, a Grace-giver, like my Jesus.  What if I stop looking at the wrongs done against me and instead choose to see who I am?  What if I filter every interaction by my identity as a Forgiver?  What if I never look back?  I breathe it in.

Easier said than done, you think?  I no longer believe that.  I think it is a simple choice.  Perhaps I make that choice seventy times seven times.  I forgive you because it is who I am. Because of Who He Is. We are Forgivers, my Jesus and I.

So I knelt in the Presence of God and His worshippers and opened my hands, let so so so much slip away.  Not for the sake of my dreams, or even for the freedom it will surely produce, but as an offering to the One Who Sees Me, who invited me to ask for something only God can do.  That is my request, that I be a Forgiver.

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Clearing

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Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Is.30:21.

I have been blog-silent for almost a week.  I sat down to write last night, but the words did not fit together. Rolling my eyes, I snapped my computer shut at 11pm.  I sat still on my couch for a moment, massaging my temples.  Then, this – You aren’t writing your heart.  You are filling space.  That is not My calling for you.  

I do not want to write empty words, but the words that mean something to me right now are unfinished.  They are disconnected strands.  I think I might see the tapestry that God is weaving, and it is dazzling, but so far unresolved.

Today severe wind whips snow violently through our city. Dreamy Scott sits on a plane to (of all places) Oahu, Hawaii for a meeting.  In a few minutes I will bundle myself and my kids in snow clothes and shovel away the blizzard’s heavy droppings that coat my driveway and walkway.  It will be hard work to clear a path. Sometimes blogging through an unfinished story is like that.  Truth and life buried under a pile of emotional weariness.

We emerge, a bit dazed, from a week of intensity, both exhilarating and excruciating.  The Lord is building an edifice of grace in our family, our church, our city; but it is hard work to clear the heaviness and find the way. We slog through phone calls and meetings as we sort through how the Lord wants us to move forward into the clear calling He has on our little family.  Dreamy Scott and I shrug blankly some moments, then bend our knees, listen, act.  The Enemy (who mistakenly believes he has a claim on us) creates obstacle after obstacle, blinds us with smoke screens, fills us with doubt.  We choose to let it fall beside the path.  We set our faces like flint, confident that if we keep our eyes on our mission, the Lord will clear a straight path.

I want to share details, but they are not yet clear.  The picture is not in focus; it is fuzzy, bleary, but drenched in sparkling grace.  That is why I tried to write empty words last night. Instead, I write vague ones (for which I am sorry), but they are my heart.  I will tell you more specifics as the Lord pulls the pixels together.

Yesterday I spoke with Julie Gorman; new friend, lovely woman of God and Executive Director of Women Inspired.  We dreamed together, prayed together, planned together.  (As the Lord clears our vision and shows us how to build Women Inspired in our city, I will record it here.  I hope you will join us.)  She prayed these words over me:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Is.30:21.

How could she know that that very verse has been life and breath to me over the past four years as He asked us to do hard things for His glory and our healing?  I have not thought of that verse once this week, so her reminder was a lightning bolt of mercy.  It was not only Julie who spoke this verse’s invitation to faithful surrender; it was the Holy Spirit, reminding me that underneath the heavy wreckage of dreams deferred and reborn, there is a pathway to glory.  He keeps His promises; He whispers the way to hearts attune.

Sometimes we live in seasons of unfinished stories that crave the kiss of Isaiah 30:21. Perhaps these are merely opportunities for a deeper grace, pathways into a mighty work of God.  He will clear the way before us.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Is.41:10.

L’Chaim

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Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?  Mt.20:22

All of my vices are liquid.

(Disclaimer: Before I come home to an intervention from concerned readers, no, I am not an alcoholic. I am a glass-of-wine-with-dinner/occasional-girls-night-out-margarita kinda gal.) 

In the early mornings, I creep downstairs to wrap myself in God’s Word and my grandmother-in-law’s heavy knitted blanket.  I cup my hands around a steaming mug of milky-sweet coffee, immerse myself in Truth, and settle my place in the day ahead.  The snug cup suspends me in a moment of quiet reflection that infuses me with life for the whole day.  An opportunity to soak in warmth through the curved comfort of a hot coffee mug.

The late afternoons are the hardest part of the day.  My children derail in obedience or kindness at some point in the hours between 3 and 5pm.  My patience deflates as my evening expectations inflate.  I fold laundry, cook dinner, pick up clutter, set the table, parent relentlessly – while hungry and exhausted.  I remember that I am dust during those hours of wearing thin.  When Scott gets home, I sometimes pour us both a glass of red wine – a jeweled invitation to release the long hours of carrying office and home on weary shoulders.  An opportunity for renewal over a stem glass of California red blend.

Sometimes we spend evenings with friends.  We laugh, joke, relax, relate, tell stories, listen and enjoy each other.  We order tableside guacamole and margaritas all around (on the rocks with salt) as we greet the simple happiness of a eating a meal with people who just like each other.  An opportunity to knit strands into a tapestry of relationship over a salt rimmed margarita glass.

The cup that we hold and lift we must drink.  Henri Nouwen.

Drinking has power to infuse life or death.  A coffee break, a pre-dinner cocktail, a toast, a wine tasting, a tea party.  To refuse a drink communicates lack of value; to accept is an offering of goodwill.  I am aware that my daily coffee and the occasional cocktail do not give health to my body, but they breathe vigor into my soul through what they represent. They are invitations to a deeper, richer life through meaningful rituals of liquid life-giving.

Jesus drank a harder cup.  He lived an extreme life as he threaded His mission into the hard skin of this fallen place.  The voices worshiped Hosanna, then spat Crucify Him within hours.  Jesus spilled his liquid love on the dry pocks of this savage earth, leaving a wake of controversy and adulation, scandal and worship.  He absorbed it all, not as a martyr or a hero, but doggedly, simply, missionally.

Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?  Mt.26:42.

What cup has the Lord poured for you?  We have an opportunity to merge our missions with His, to drink His same cup of salvation to the dregs, spilling life and love through our obedience.  Right now I sense that my Jesus cups my face in His hands, reminds me to look only at Him, catches my eyes as I try to pry them away. Do not put your eyes anywhere else but on mine.  Stop looking for personal justice, because I have a mission for you.  Will you walk in it?  Will you drink the cup I offer you?

Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?  (Mt. 20:22)

Can we willingly swallow injustice, abuse, suffering, loss and death for the sake of our mission? Can we take in a full portion of fallenness now for the hope of glory? Can we nourish ourselves with self-denial?  It is not wrong to drink the cup of joy with gratitude, but there is a deeper, more hidden grace in the cup of suffering.  Mingled together, they are Life, the cup of salvation.

What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.  Ps.116:12-13.

L’Chaim!

Mission

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Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2.

The end of last week was painful.  Generally I absorb clashes, funneling them inward to mull over as my emotions settle.  This one has been hard to release, and I think I know why.

This conflict attacked my mission.

Of course the source of the conflict was not truly human at all, but the Enemy of Our Souls. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Eph.6:12. A trusted friend doubted me, and it annihilated me.  I slashed back with defensiveness and anger.  That was wrong.  I should have responded with peaceful confidence, acknowledging her heart but standing securely, serenely, on what I know to be true about my character.

The conflict is over, resolved, settled.  The Lord brought full truth and restoration. But it jolted me, and I was shuddered by aftershocks.  If this trusted leader could question me like this, then I am not safe.  Nobody will trust me or believe me.  I’m disqualified from ministry still, in spite of what God has done to heal and redeem me over the years. This is too hard.  I can’t handle this kind of personal and spiritual attack.  

I spun out, skidded into a murky ditch of self-doubt and self-protection.  (The enemy is not original, because His weapons have proven so effective.  Fear, suspicion, shame, loss, regret.)  

Then I started to think about Moses.  Other than Jesus Christ, Moses was possibly the greatest leader who ever walked the earth. His life was steeped in relentless attack.  Attack from his own people, as well as military attack from surrounding nations. Additionally,  can you imagine the ugly haze of spiritual attack that must have surrounded the man carrying the mantle of the deliverance of God’s people?

There was a time when God’s presence nearly left Israel.  Moses had left the Israelite camp to receive the covenant from the Lord on Mount Sinai, leaving his brother Aaron the deputy leader in his place.  Aaron promptly built a calf-shaped idol out of the women’s gold jewelry and led the people in a frenzy of pagan revelry.  Moses returned, the covenant cut in stone in his arms, and discovered God’s people in their wild betrayal. The faithful Levites swept through the camp, swords in hand, striking down their fickle comrades in cleansing judgment.  But God had more to teach Moses.

Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the pagan peoples before you. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way. Exodus 33:1-3.

Did you catch the great consequence, the unutterable tragedy?  I will not go up in your midst. God had already commissioned Moses to lead the people into the Promised Land, and God always keeps His word.  But the terrible faithlessness of the Israelite people caused God’s face to turn from them in righteous anger.  The solution was simple:  fulfill the mission, remove His presence.

What kind of attachment do we have to our missions?  I’m attached to mine.  My heart is set on it.  But what if I had the choice Moses did?  This was his response –

Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.” Exodus 33:12-13.

Moses responded by begging God for intimate relationship.  He would not accept the fulfillment of his mission at the expense of God’s presence.  I fall to my knees in slain conviction every time I read this precious passage of Scripture.  It re-aligns my heart.  My mission is not my dream; it is God’s dream.  My only dream is to sit at His feet and bask in His presence.

Then God said this to Moses –

And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Ex.33:14.

O, I weep even as I type it out.  This is what sustained Moses through his extraordinary life, hazy with attack, but flaming with God’s intimate presence.  This is what made Moses a remarkable leader.  He was a man who made God’s Presence his only mission.

I do not aspire to be a leader comparable to the monumental Moses, but I do desire to walk courageously and faithfully in my own microcosm of influence.  I will let everything slip through my fingers (He will catch it, and hold it to His glory) while I cry out, like Moses, for a deeper portion of my God’s mighty and tender Presence.