Thursday, January 9, 2014


I don’t know about you but I don’t do well when technology fails. Almost everything I do, especially at work, depends on computers working. Normally, it does, but about three weeks ago one of our computers failed. Production halted. With what little knowledge about the workings behind the screen and keyboard, I tried desperately to fix it. Nada. Then we called in the brilliant ones and they couldn’t fix it either. It doesn’t stop there. As I write this, our IT Director is diligently working after hours, fixing server issues…a completely different technology issue.
Despite all of this, I thank God for refining my heart about these things. There have been times in the past when I would stomp my feet and throw my hands in the air in total frustration. Sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally.
Now I pause and thank God that everything technical worked beautifully on Christmas Eve. William Close and Earth Harp Collective lead breathtaking music that made our hearts stop as we celebrated the birth of our Christ King, Baby Jesus. Our savior, our redeemer and, yes, our refiner.
In Zechariah, we read about God’s refining*
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure.I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold.They will call on my name, and I will answer them.I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” –Zechariah 13:9 (NLT)
*Refining is mentioned several times in the Bible and it was quite a process. The ore was crushed to tiny pea size pebbles and then ground to powder by hand. This powder was spread on a slightly inclined stone table and water was poured over it to wash away the dust and dirt from the earth. Since the gold pieces were heavier, they would stay on the table where they were collected, dried and melted in a closed crucible with some other materials for about 5 days. At the end of the 5 days, the gold came out pure.
On Christmas Eve, brass wires stretched across our worship center from stage to balcony to lead us into a magnificent, holy night of worship. Surely that brass must have gone through a refining process at one time because still, after having been taken down, they shine brilliantly in the dimmest light.
Imagine God doing that with us... Washing away all of our junk…our impatience, our reliance on things of this world…on the things that have a grip on us.

If we surrender to His refining process, the imperfect, frustrating moments of life will, along with our imperfect reactions will fade away as His pure brilliance shines through us.

Then, we too, can shine brilliantly in the dimmest light…even in the darkness.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Misfit Mongrels

I was taught to be independent. Self-sufficient. Not to bother anyone with any of my personal issues. So it should not have surprised me when I discovered that I am withholding portions of my heart and soul from my Savior whom I love. But it did.
After all, He is the One that I've pledged to give EVERYTHING to. The One I worship and adore and, in worshipping have, with every fiber of my being, offered my surrender.
Yet, somehow my surrender has been skewed. Somehow all this time I always envisioned surrendering as giving my all…all my will, gifts, talents, trust, hope, faithfulness, service.  You know, all the good things that seem usable.
In embarking on a new and profound journey with Him, I've discovered burdens and baggage I've been dragging around like misfit mongrels that keep jerking me around and pulling me down.  Like walking four wild dogs, their leashes have formed a tangled trap which has wrapped so tightly around me I can barely move. I missed giving Him all my junk, my misfit mongrels. I guess I never thought about bothering Him with those unwanted pests.
I like to call them issues…that way they sound innocuous, harmless. Many of us have issues.  Issues with fear, control, anger, unforgiveness, or insecurity…the list is endless. Endless, but far from innocuous.
While mine strangle me, the interesting thing is that I'm the one holding their leashes. All I have to do is let go of them. Open my tight-fisted grip and let go. When I do, God will step in and masterfully untangle them and set me free.
Do you have misfit mongrels you are trying to tame too?
He passionately desires to release us from the leashes of the untamed, setting us free before they strangle the very life out of us.
"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'" - Matthew 11:28-29 NLT

My journey of letting go and surrendering my misfit mongrels is just beginning. I can sense the freedom that awaits me as His healing power reaches to untangle, heal and set me free. Amazingly, what seems unusable to me is what, when surrendered, will bring Him the most glory.
All we have to do is let go.  All we have to do is surrender.
Lord of All, please help us surrender our all to You. So often we find that we take back what we surrender even when it threatens to strangle our heart and soul. Help us to remember that true rest comes in laying those misfit mongrels at your feet for all time.  We thank you for being our ultimate Peacemaker. - Amen

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Called to Trust

“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am  trusting You. Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to You.”
Psalm 143:8 (NLT)
Millions of thoughts are racing through my mind like shooting stars, landing at the center of my heart with varying degrees of explosiveness as I soak up those freeing words again.  God has been taking me on a trust journey this last month and, truth be told, I’m still on it.
He’s been teaching me how to trust Him more…with every detail of my life.  It’s kinda funny, you would think that since I trust Him with my eternal destination, it would be really easy to trust Him with the temporary things here on earth.  Specifically, I’m talking about my vocation…where I work.  We often refer to it as a calling. To be really transparent, over the past 3-4 years, I’ve been crying, arguing, crying, whining and pleading with God. Telling Him I don’t understand…asking Him why.  Why can’t I work in full-time ministry with my friends? I love it there…it’s fun, positive, upbeat.  It’s comfortable.
Just like God called Moses from the desert or David from the fields, sometimes He calls us from our comfort zones. At this moment, He is calling me to downtown Houston…a sheltered country girl to the heart of our nation’s 4th largest city.  Not just an occasional visit to Jones Hall or the Toyota Center, but to actually spend the better part of 240 out of 365 days each year. Sometimes the very thought of this peaks my curiosity about what God is up to and sometimes it leaves me shaking in my boots.
Has He ever called you from your comfort zone?  Has He ever placed you in the midst of danger…between the enemy army and the Red Sea…before a giant with just a sling and a stone?
During this journey, I’ve wondered about trust.  What exactly is it? We tend to throw that word around so easily until it is tested.
We can trust those that never lie to us.  He is Truth.
We can trust those that will never leave us. We have His Word: He “will never leave or forsake” us.
We can trust those that love us.  He is Love. He loves us and left everything, gave up everything, and sacrificed everything…even to the point of an unspeakable, tortuous death.  All so He could always be with us.

In further researching trust, I find that the main message out there is “don’t trust anyone and you won’t get hurt.”  I even ran across echoes of my own heart in “don’t let your guard down because as soon as you do, they will either move away, die or leave you.”  But the most impactful one I found was this one, written by an Anonymous writer:
“If you say you can trust someone then you are admitting to something even greater than love. Trust involves all your thoughts and emotions to be given to someone so they can have them. Trusting someone is knowing that you can be hurt so bad that none can even know. This is why trust is a word of great power.”
Hmmm…trust is greater than love.  Enlightening.   But the second line is what really got me…basically, giving all of my thoughts, emotions, even my will to someone so they can have them. 
Do I really believe that God is sovereign over every aspect of my life?
If I do, I can trust Him with everything in my life. Every moment.  Every step. Everything.

Then the question for me, for all of us, is: Will I trust Him? Will I unwrap my tightly clenched fingers to those things that make me feel safe, secure and comfortable so that He can hold my hand and lead me where He wants me to go? Will I surrender my desires for His?
At last, there is only one answer for me. With arms lifted high and heart abandoned, I can now authentically echo the words of The Stand “What can I say? What can I do? But offer my heart, O God, completely to you?”
Thank you, O gracious Father, for not giving up on me.  Thank You for Your kindness…even when Your answer is “No.” Thank You for Your relentless love.  Right now, I especially thank You for ever so gently molding my heart, taking my hand and teaching me to trust You with everything.  I offer all of me to You.  After all, Your precious blood bought and paid for me.  I am Yours! –In the hands of my dear Savior, Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Be Still

"Be still and know that I am God." -Psalm 46:10a
The other night I woke up at 4:12am.  Yeah, I know, strange time to wake up...especially for this loghead.  I started thinking about all the things left on my list to do: 12 more presents to wrap, a few more gifts to buy, Christmas Eve breakfast and Christmas Day dinner to plan, shop for and prepare.  In the middle of these thoughts, the verse "Be still and know that I am God." came to mind, along with a vibrant dream that took my breath away:
Stillness filled the air. Rich, warm light flooded the open space. Stars broke through the darkness to shine like brilliant diamonds that had been strewn across a black velvet canopy.  Bearded men, who smelled of pungent earth, wore long robes and held staffs in rough, grungy hands. Surprisingly, they were on their knees. Yet it was their eyes that caused me to gasp. They were huge--wide open and filled with  unspeakable awe, humility and amazement...all at the same time. Tears slowly rolled down their beaming faces. I followed their gaze to see what had captivated them so.
It was was Jesus!  I had always thought the first time I would ever see Him, He would be an adult with a welcoming lap for me to crawl up on. This was a baby.  Not just any baby.  This was the Savior of the World...Jesus. Helpless to the passing glance.  Arms flinging.  Legs kicking at white linen strips of cloth that served as a makeshift blanket.
I was there. the manger...with Baby Jesus. As I drew nearer, I knew He was anything but helpless. My heart raced.  I couldn't breathe and my mind was swimming, shaken with jumbled thoughts and emotions.  My soul fell before Him, but my body was motionless.  I could not move. Magnificent rays of light streamed upward from the manger. Light, Love Eternal...revealed in this sweet, holy baby.
I could hear the words again:  Be Still and Know that I am God.
The Story I had heard more than a hundred times hit me like the north wind and awakened in me a fresh sense of reality at the miracle and magnitude of that one holy night.  I had seen God incarnate...Immanuel.  God with us.  Come to save the world.  To save me. To save you. My heart will never be the same.
Christmas has passed once again. Each time I go back to that moment, my heart stops and my soul is filled with an indescribable reverance and awe. A new year is right around the corner and I pray that it is not just another blur for you or me...filled with a billion things to do and places to go.
O Holy and Ancient One, I confess that sometimes the nativity story seems to fade in between the busyness, tasks and demands of everyday life. Yet You are the One I want to know more.  Help me to be still and know You are God...You are that sweet Baby Jesus lying in the manger...God incarnate, Immanuel.  God with us...with me. May my life reflect your beautiful Light into your world. In Jesus' name and for His sake, Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's All About Us?

 "That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" -Luke 2:8-11

Several years ago, Rick Warren came out with a major bestseller entitled The Purpose Driven Life.  It is a phenomenal book that God used to spiritually revive churches, small groups and individuals.  In it, we learned that "It's not about me." True.  In our "Have it Your Way" mentality, we do, at times, act, think and believe we are entitled to what we want, when we want it. Yet I, for one, missed a huge truth. While it's not all about me, I have learned that, through God's eyes and His heart spoken in His very Word, for Him, it is all about us. It. Is. All. About. Us.

God and us, that is. A profound, mind-boggling relationship that He designed.  When I stop to consider all that He great, how mighty, how loving, how forgiving, I simply have to stop before my heart bursts with wonder and awe at how He could love me so. Yet from the moment that Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden and He called out to them "Where are you?" He has fervently pursuited us. His passionate pursuit of us was the impetus for His ultimate sacrificial plan of salvation.

This plan started out with a sweet baby's cry that summoned angels to sing Glory to God in the Highest!  The same angels who were heartbroken on crucifixion day. The same angels who victoriously leapt and danced with joy on resurrection day.  Meager beginning. Horrific sacrificing. Triumphant ending.  Creation, Crucifixion and Resurrection collide and explode, forming God's New Covenant with and for us...Jesus, our Salvation, was born to us. Not just some of us. All of us.

Salvation wrapped in swaddling cloths was born for all people...from heathen shepherds to orient kings...from those we study the Bible and Worship God with on Sunday mornings to those who desecrate  dimly lit alleys or stand on street corners or lie in cheap motels. God's love story, written to us, beautifully speaks of God's love for us. 

I'm thoroughly convinced it is all about us...God and us.

As passionately as He pursuited you and I, there are others He longs to rescue.  You know, after the shepherds went to see Baby Jesus, we are told they did four things:

1) they told EVERYONE what they had seen and heard and what the angel had told them about Baby Jesus;
2) they went back to shepherding
3) they glorified God
4) they praised God...for all the things they had seen and heard.

So, where are the rest of us?  How do we find them? What do we say or do when we find them?

Father God, thank you for making a way to come to us and be with us. Though we are undeserving and unworthy, through the gift of your sweet Salvation, Jesus Christ our Lord, you have made a way for us to be with you forever. We know there are others your heart is burning to redeem.  Allow us the privilege and honor of passionately joining you in your pursuit of "the rest of us."  Give us enthusiastic courage to tell everyone what we have seen and heard so that you may be glorified and praised!  In the beautiful name of your Son, Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It is Time

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)
I have always loved this chapter of Ecclesiastes.  When I was growing up, I would actually recite “there is a time to dance” to my mom and dad who, I thought, needed convincing.  Fortunately, I did convince them but I also learned there is a time to dance and a time to say “I’ll sit this one out.” It all depends on who is asking you to dance.
Serving as the Children’s Ministry Director at Salem several years ago, I made some very close friendships which I still cherish today.  These sweet girlfriends would often say “it’s just not my season to…” Often, I wondered what that must be like to say “It’s not my season right now” and to be able to say it with an abundance of peace.  Contrary to my sweet friends, I have always had a dozen plates spinning in the air and, invariably, one of them gets dropped. Sometimes it might be the laundry or my home, all too often it was my husband or family and, ultimately, my intimate relationship with Jesus.
What immediately pops into your head the moment you hear the word “season?”  Understandably, right now most of us would think of the Christmas season.
What does your Christmas season look like?
Is it one you would like to skip this year saying “it’s not my season?”  Perhaps finances, the loss of a loved one or the emptiness of being alone, once again, has silenced your season of Christmas.
Curious about the word meaning of Christmas, I did a little research and found this actual etymology of Christmas:
 *Christmas literally means the Mass (celebration) of Christ. "Christ" is a Greek word and title, meaning "anointed" or one set apart by God for a special purpose. "Christ" is equivalent to the Hebrew word "Messiah." Based on the words of ancient prophets, the first century Jewish people expected the arrival of the Messiah promised by God as a great deliver[er] of the people. (*
So we celebrate Jesus, our great Deliverer! This season, He is the One asking you to dance.  The music you hear may sound like a train derailing on Main Street at high noon but if you listen close enough, you’ll hear His voice and His music…it is orchestrated and written just for you. Jesus Christ, Immanuel, Prince of Peace, is asking you to dance.  You might be tempted to say “I’ll just sit this one out.” Instead, place your hand in His and let Him lead you through this miraculous season of celebration we call Christmas. It is time.
Prayer: O great God! Thank you for delivering Your anointed One to us.  Jesus, You were, are and always will be, our beautiful Deliverer!  I praise You for being my personal Deliverer, many times over.  I can’t think of anyone I’d rather celebrate than You, Jesus.  This season, despite the many demands and distractions, please help me not to get derailed but to simply take your hand and dance.  –In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Walker or His Workmanship?

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. -1 Peter 2:9 (MSG)
Have you seen The Walking Dead? It’s a weekly sci-fi series where a disease has taken over an entire city, spreading to the nearby countryside, killing people and then bringing them back to life, if you want to call it that.  Only a ravenous hunger to suck the life out of any living thing that comes close gives them a semblance of existence…they are the Walking Dead.
Survivors have formed a makeshift family as they work to escape, and protect each other from, the walkers. Finding refuge in a countryside farm, they discover Doctor Herschel, the owner, is sheltering walkers in his barn.  In a heated discussion, his daughter, Maggie, asks her new-found friend, Glenn, not to call them walkers. “What do you call them?” he asks.  Insisting they are people, she adamantly replies “I call them mom, Mrs. Perkins, Mr. and Mrs. Stephens.” Family, neighbors, local business owners, once loved and accepted, now rejected to nothingness.
Thanksgiving morning I get to go downtown and help feed the homeless.  Some people scoff, calling them rejects, crackheads or the professional homeless who work the system, sucking the life out of the living. I want to know their names and call them Steve, Trent, Mrs. Perkins, or whatever their name is because I know Jesus knows their name. To Him, they are not rejects or walkers, they are His creation, fearfully and wonderfully made – His divine workmanship. His heart breaks for them. He longs to be their shelter and refuge. His blood poured out to redeem them, as it did for us when He called us from the shadows to His light to “speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made” for me and for you.
Who will you cross paths with this Thanksgiving that you would prefer to ignore or even hide from?  (You know, the one who just always seems to suck the life out of every living thing they come in contact with.)
Will you see him or her as a walker or His workmanship?
Will you speak out for Him?
Father God, it is so easy to forget that, were it not for your limitless grace, we, too, would be walkers. We praise You for lifting us up from the pit of darkness into your glorious light and ask that you give us the courage and the words to speak out for You. May Your light and love shine through us to infuse your works of art we meet in Your gallery of life. –In our Beautiful Creator Jesus’ name, Amen.