Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fear and Psalm 3

Lately I've been seeing how much I let fear touch my day.  Take this morning, for instant.  I was having a lovely morning.  It was only 5:30 and my husband had already made me giggle.  I was just thinking how blessed I was and then I plugged in my phone.  And checked my email.  Which I shouldn't have done.  And there was a bill.  From Italy.  From a company with which I have closed my account.  Twice.  And fear starts in my stomach and goes to the end of my fingers and toes.  While making the bed I list in my head how this is A Problem and that Getting It Solved is going to be Stressful on Multiple Levels for at Least two Other People.
My head hurts.

And I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is a really little thing.  It's not cancer.  It's not a child running away from God.  It's not ...

But that logic does nothing to lower my blood pressure.

And then I see this lovely word sâmak.
... for the Lord sustained me.

It literally means "to prop up"... you know - like the stick that is propping up my plant that is too tall. But, it doesn't just involve the propping thing - it involves what is being propped.  My plant is putting it's weight on that stick.  There's some pressure there.

And what I see in Psalm 3 is that God is faithful.  In verse 2 people tell me that God will not be my salvation.  I need
a plan
a good attitude
to compare my issue with other bigger issues and then I won't care about mine any more.

And those might work a little.  But I don't want to be satisfied with figuring out my bill.  I want to be satisfied in God.  Salvation from figuring this out might be nice... but something else stressful will come along.  I want salvation from not being fear-filled.  I want my instant reaction to be not fear - but to be God.  And salvation belongs to the Lord.  I'm glad He is propping me up.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Reality Check

Galatians 1:1-4

to tear out.  to rescue.

Dramatic.  Powerful.  Definite.  Secure.  A before and an after.

And this is what God has done through Jesus.

Jesus was not just sent to be an example, or a motivator, or the president of a social club.  He came to rescue us.  To save us.  And I wonder what the Church would look like if we really thought about that.  I wonder what my life would look like if I really believed that.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Heart Shepherding

James 5:19-20

Though we don't have kids, we really want to see God's desire for our home.  My husband and I went to a parenting conference led by Paul Tripp.  He taught that parenting is an act of shepherding a child's heart to the living, gracious God.  The one thing that hit me hard is that Mr. Tripp said that when children get "caught" it's an act of God's love.  When a parent has the opportunity to discipline her child, she is extending God's grace to that child.  God's love desires that child to repent, to grow, to mature.



I needed to hear this.

Because the same is true for us.  When we get corrected, re-directed, spoken to with the Gospel - most of the time it hurts because pride is wounded, shame is exposed.  But, this is God's love.  This is God bringing us back to himself.

And when we see someone who is slipping through the cracks or seems to be stumbling or even lollygagging... it is a glorious thing to offer the good, sweet balm of the Gospel.  It might be about a verse taken out of context.  It might be about a choice of sin.  It might be about a selfish outlook.  Whatever the context, God's grace is waiting to be extended.

Praying for Rain

James 5:17-18

I was going to make a chart.  One that compared Elijah's life to mine.  There would be three columns.  The first one would have a situation, like "confronting prophets of Baal".  And then the next would be how Elijah responded and the next one would be how I have responded.  Ummm... the only problem is that I have not confronted prophets of Baal.  Nor have I been so starving that I've needed to ask a widow to give up her last bit of food for me.  And the death thing? Well - I haven't died, yet.  But I'm guessing the only chariot of fire I'll get to experience is the belt that my body rides on as it goes into the crematory.  I know, I know... not exactly pleasant.  But, I'm doing my best - trying to bond with Elijah.  James says he was just like us.  He had the same passions and ideas as us.  And God answered him.  Which means God will answer us.    And we really need rain here in Texas.  For our grass and crops.  But for our souls, too.

One time I was praying about something BIG.  My heart's begging burdened prayer.  And almost as an afterthought I asked the Lord for rain.  And it rained.  Right that second.  With a bright, hot sky.  Drops of mercy fell on my head.  Drops of Living Water that confirmed God was listening, that He knew my hearts deep cry.

And it happened again.  With rain.  And then again with the wind.

It would be years and years before God gave me the BIG thing I had been asking for.  But, He was always listening.  And I'm sure-really sure-that the weather was just to show me that He was in charge.

Elijah had doubts.  And frustration.  And weariness.  And he had the same God.  His rain prayers?  They were a reminder not that Elijah could control the universe but that the Maker was in control of all things.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Invitation

James 5:14-15

proskaleomai... to invite

When we're sick, James tells us to invite the elders to pray over us.  But we don't.  We don't want to bother people.  We don't want people to bother us.  It's no big deal.  I can take care of myself.  It's kind of embarrassing and kind of annoying to not be whole and perfect and in charge.

It starts out with a weakness that seems physical.  But somewhere along the line, James brings in the disease of sin.  A spiritual weakness.  That's what really needs healed, anyway.

And letting people get That Close is really... well, invasive.  And humbling.

But, that's what we're to do as the Church.

We're not alone.  Maybe we should start acting like it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Twang Away

James 5:13

We think of the word "twang" as an adjective.  And we think of a southern woman with a twang in her voice, sweeter than Texas tea.  Or we think of cowboys singing their twangy songs around the campfire, accompanied by coyotes.

Usually we talk about "singing psalms of praise" being Pluck The Strings in Greek.  Which, it is - but that pluck has a more fun reality: twang.  Twang the strings.  Plucking, well, that's just plucking... but, twanging?  That sounds like fun.  That's my nephew making up songs on his tiny guitar.  That's my husband singing in the kitchen to make me laugh.  That's the guy behind me in church singing his not-so-in-tune heart out.

There's nothing refined, nothing proper, nothing stuffed up, nothing pretentious about twanging.  So, turn the radio up; roll the windows down.

Feel free to put in your earplugs.

Or you could sing with me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

James 5:13

kakopatheō: to undergo hardship, endure hardness

Sometimes this is the hardest place to pray... where you cannot find a footing, when you feel you have no roots, when you feel like God is far away...

If two flowers are growing, one in soft, nutrient soil but the other one has to push through the rocks, pick the one that has endured hardship.  It's the one that's going to be more fragrant.  Something in the battle produces more oil.  In fact, perfumers search out these flowers when gathering the best ingredients for their perfumes.

So, even when you don't want to - even when it feels hopeless; know that our God is listening.  He hears.  He knows.  He will be faithful.