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Archive for September, 2008


Matthew 26:6-9 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

Mary seemed to have no difficulty giving Jesus her very best or expressing her devotion to Him in full view of those who were present. Surely they would have understood – they were His disciples, the ones most intimately acquainted with Him.

They did not.

Following Christ, witnessing the miracles, hearing His teachings, receiving insight into the mysteries of heaven, and even ministering the gospel of the kingdom with miraculous signs, the disciples failed to fully grasp the value of Christ.

“Why this waste?”

When holy things become common to us, when the sense of reverent awe and wonder is lost, worship seems wasteful. There are other, more beneficial things I can do with my money, time (__________ insert the thing of value that is too precious to you to lavish upon Jesus).

Have we forgotten that worship is more than singing a song or mouthing some religious sounding words? If our heart has not been captivated by how supremely valuable our God is, are these things really worship? And if He does not have our heart Monday – Saturday, does it really mean that much to Him if we show up in church on Sunday?

Oh, how my heart cries to be one who lavishes my all upon Him! Dear friends, let us press on to know Him, to love Him and worship Him with the fervency and devotion He is worthy of. For absolutely nothing is wasted that is given to Jesus.

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Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed with desperation
All my longing is for Thee
Jesus look upon this heart
And make Your presence real to me

I have no other I can go to
But there’s no other that I need
So when my heart feels so alone
Teach me to only look to Thee

Brothers, sisters You have given
Your blessed body on this earth
But more so than the church of Jesus
I need the Jesus of the church

If I can’t find You in the Word
When prayer and worship seem so dry
And my hearts breaks with longing for You
Will You come and dry my eyes

The ground is watered with my tears
Each one proclaims my love for You
But though I weep my life away
It shall not hinder my pursuit

A raging fire has been ignited
A passion somewhere deep within
I have begun a quest to find You
And reclaim first love again

And so this burning drives me onward
To know You in a deeper way
To have my life transformed into
A place Your glory is displayed

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Tragedy has a way of bringing hidden things to light.  I am thinking primarily of inner things, like attitudes and motives.  It would surely be an exaggeration to categorize hurricane Gustav as a tragedy for me personally, but it was most certainly a terrible inconvenience.   Over the course of the days that followed there was a wide range of emotions that I have dealt with:  sorrow over all the damage that had been done to our city; irritation with all the inconvenience associated with daily life; and sadness because I felt that little concern was shown by people I know in other parts of the country for how I might have been affected by the storm.   This last one has been most troubling to me.

As I have pondered this issue (for it has affected me deeply), I have taken it to the Lord in prayer.  Although it may be a factual issue, I was concerned that my heart was not right in this matter and that offense was beginning to creep in.  So I cried my sorrow out to the Lord and asked Him to adjust my perspective and to help me see this situation as He did.

That night as I was finishing up the book of Colossians, I read these words written by the apostle Paul in the final verse – Remember my chains.  I felt the Lord drawing my attention to that verse, so I stopped and read it again.  Yes, this is what I want.  I want someone to remember my chains.  I have felt forgotten.  Neglected.  Somebody should remember me.

Feeling quite self satisfied, as though this Scripture justified the ugliness that was growing in my heart, I breathed a sigh of relief, certain that God was on my side and that my hurt feelings were warranted.  But so softly and more gently than I deserved at that moment, He spoke to me through that verse – “Whose chains have you remembered?”

I had no defense.  I had no excuse.  Utterly ashamed, I could only cry out “No one’s Lord!”

So, before the world (whoever may be reading this) I confess that there was a plank in my own eye while I was angry about the speck in yours.  And I pray that the Lord will help me to remember the chains of others and forget my own.

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I am so very grateful for the Lord’s mercy.  My house was spared.  The tree will be removed tomorrow, but all indications are that there was no significant damage.

As happy as this makes me, it is still tinged with sadness.  There are many who were not so fortunate.   Please continue to pray for my city.

 

This is a view of the tree taken from inside my back door.

These are taken from my back yard.

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A firm faith

“For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5

What adjectives would you use to describe your faith? Strong? Weak? Bold? Easily shaken? The apostle Paul used the word firm. Strong’s defines firm as “that which furnishes a foundation on which a thing rests firmly.” Webster’s gives the following definitions: securely or solidly fixed in place; not weak or uncertain; having a solid or compact structure that resists stress or pressure; not easily moved or disturbed.

What the apostle Paul rejoiced in was the firmness of the Colossians’ faith. It was a solid faith, not easily moved or disturbed. It was a faith that was foundational to the entirety of life; substantial and able to provide strength and support. If this type of faith is desirable, how can such a faith be obtained? Many times in my own life I have felt faith-deficient. My faith has seemed small as I have battled various fears and dealt with unanswered prayers. My faith has seemed weak when compared to others who appeared to have no difficulty believing God for impossible things. Oh how I have desired to have a firm faith, but it was seemingly beyond my grasp. I had not been able to comprehend the secret to obtaining such a faith.

But the secret to firm faith is revealed in the rest of the verse and it is the same secret that energizes the whole of the Christian experience. It is these two words – in Christ.

As is so often the case, my struggles are due to a misplaced base of operations. I have a tendency to look in myself for the strength, determination, faith, commitment, etc., that are necessary to live victoriously as a Christian. All too often my level of faith corresponds to my perception of my performance at that moment. For instance, have I prayed long enough? Have I read an adequate number of chapters of the Bible? Have I behaved appropriately today? The foolishness of this is not always so readily apparent, but a few moments of careful reflection would reveal the absurdity of such a thing. The apostle Paul said “in my flesh dwells no good thing.” And “in Him we live and move and have our being.” Consequently, looking to my own efforts to produce a firm faith will always be futile, for I am only capable of producing a flawed and weak product.

But when I look to Christ, I find in Him I have a faith that is strong because it is placed in an infinitely strong object. In Him I find a faith that endures because day by day He renews my strength. So often, after my frenzied efforts to work myself up into faith, I find that all I can do is collapse at His feet, spent and weary. It is at those moments that I hear Him say “Come unto me and I will give you rest.”

And He will give strength, and He will give faith. A firm, enduring faith.

In Christ – He is the source of my faith, He is the object of my faith. The beginning and the end. The alpha and omega. The yes and amen.

This is the foundation I want my life to rest upon.

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This morning I am waiting for Gustav to make landfall. I live about 80 miles from New Orleans and we are expecting hurricane force winds here within the next few hours. Last night there was a tornado sighting alarmingly close to where I am.

I have been battling fear.

This morning the Lord comforted me with this verse: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything” Philippians 4:5b-6a

The Lord is at hand. All is well.

Pray for us on the Gulf Coast.

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