Wednesday, April 28, 2010

i love the long beach ladies

A year ago I found out that I was staying in Long Beach for my first year of EDGE. I did not think that this would be the case, but only a day before I was told my placement God had given me the heart to stay in Long Beach. The weekend prior I had the wonderful opportunity to take some women to my hometown. As we shared life that weekend, my heart became set for them. I had a lot of reasons why I didn't want to be in Long Beach, but these women tipped the scales of my heart toward Long Beach.

A year later, I am so thankful that the Lord kept me in Long Beach. My heart has continued to grow for these ladies in ways that I would have never expected. I am so thankful for the women here and for the ways that the Lord is transforming them.

Lord, You are so gracious. You give life in the dry and weary land.

(I'm thankful for the men too.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In the Garden

Growing up I always enjoyed the hymn "In the Garden" and I still do. It is sweet and simple, an easy tune and the chorus is often stuck in my head. I also think that the chorus sounds a bit like something drunken sailors would sing, but I digress. I praise God for the truths in these lyrics and that our God does in fact walk and talk with us. He is so intimate!

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

God is trustworthy

I used my thumb to make the ladybug's body
and a blade of grass to paint its legs.

my current favorite color

Today was nearly perfect.
And at 7:50 p.m. the sky was a soft, cornflower blue.

Thank you Lord.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm gonna give Micahel $10

When I was six or seven my mom lost one of her diamond earrings. She had searched high and low, retracing her every step, but could not find it. My brothers and I were enlisted in the search with the lure of a ten dollar reward. My brothers began to eagerly search for the earring, but for some reason I wasn't interested. Maybe the chance of finding it seemed too small, the time spent searching seemed less exciting than the swing set, or maybe I didn't think the reward was worthwhile.

A few days later, however, I was walking through my parents bedroom when I felt a sharp prick on the bottom of my barefoot. I looked down and there it was, mom's earring. I received the reward. As I rode to church this morning I couldn't help, but identify with my six year old self as I thought about some of the things God has been showing me lately.

God has pricked my heart with some truths. I don't know that I was eager to find them or wrestle with them, possibly too busy to realize they were missing, but nonetheless a teeny weeny bit of pain opened my eyes and there were these truths just waiting to be found. There is also a great reward, not just the experience of right living under truth, but also the sweet and deepening fellowship of the Lord.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

connect the dots

Psalm 84:11

"The Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does He withhold
from those whose walk is blameless."

As I first direct my thoughts to this truth, I think, "Sweet nectar, sun and shield, favor and honor! No good thing withheld!! Sign me up for that!"

But then "blameless" shifts my train of thought.

Blameless = Jesus

Jesus's walk was blameless. No good thing was withheld from Jesus? Jesus endured the cross, ultimate humility, suffering and shame. He was utterly forsaken on the cross.

I can see that this brought Jesus honor.

"Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." -Philippians 2:9-11

Favor though? When I think favor, I think favorite and how I would treat someone that is one of my favorites or one whom I looked on with favor. I am sure that because of God's love and goodness His favor is perfect, where as mine is so not.

So Jesus suffering on the cross was God's favor for Him. It was Christ at the center of His Father's will. His ministry on earth with the disciples had been completed and it was time for Him to be offered as the perfect, atoning sacrifice.

Jesus must be a special case! After all He is Jesus, God in the flesh! Right?!

Well, Jesus definitely is special, the only one to ever walk a blameless life, the High Priest who could make atonement once for all. But we by faith are seen as righteous and with that blamelessness comes the Lord's favor and honor. The Lord in His providence sees fit at time to discipline us, or let endure hardships and let us suffer so that we may be more firmly rooted in Him and sanctified. In the Lord's favor suffering is something that we can rejoice in.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that sufferings produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." -Romans 5:3-5

I confess that I have completely failed to do this today and yesterday too, and for me to even look at my life and think that I am suffering...oh my, it is an affront to the Lord, it is prideful, and self-entitlement at its ugly best. Lord, help me to see favor as You do and with Your truth at the forefront of my mind, as the greatest treasure of my heart.

Help me to be like my persecuted brother who wrote this in chains to his wife:

My dearest wife:

God, by His holy will, has prolonged my prison sentence to five years and four month. I very much long for the day that I will be reunited with you my dear wife, our children and God's people in the church.

My dear, listen to me; not only as a wife, but also as a Christian woman who has come to understand who God is and how deep and mysterious His ways are. Yes! I love you, I love the children and I would love to be free in order to serve God. But, in here, God has made me not only a sufferer for His Name's sake in a prison of this world over which Christ has won victory, but also a prisoner of His indescribable love and grace.

I am testing and experiencing the love and care of our Lord every day. When they first brought me to this prison, I had thoughts which were contrary to what the Bible says. I thought the devil had prevailed over the church and over me. I thought the work of the gospel in Eritrea was over. But it did not take one day for the Lord to show me that He is a sovereign God and that He is in control of all things - even here in prison.

The moment I entered my cell, one of the prisoners called me and said, ‘Pastor, come over here. Everyone in this cell is unsaved. You are very much needed here.’ So, on the same day I was put in prison, I carried on my spiritual work.

My dear, the longer I stay in here, the more I love my Savior and tell the people here about His goodness. His grace is enabling me to overcome the coldness and the longing that I feel for you and for our children. Sometimes I ask myself, ‘Am I out of my mind? Am I a fool?’ Well, isn't that what the apostle had said, ‘Whether I am of sound mind or out of my mind, it is for the sake of Christ.’ (2 Cor. 5:13)

My most respected wife, I love you more than I can say. Please help the children understand that I am here as a prisoner of Christ for the greater cause of the gospel.

-- From a pastor in bonds in Eritrea

Monday, April 5, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

spring dressed in summertime's clothing

I was recently given a wonderful mix CD with two titles, one of which was "a spring mix in summer clothes and i love you." I love the idea of spring in summer clothes and as I did some spring cleaning today, feeling the warm Blythe air, I couldn't get the idea away from head. I also couldn't help but think of love, for my spring cleaning was in honor of my parent's 28th wedding anniversary.

Little girl circles, she's dancing,
Flowers for springtime romancing,
But you went away, made me cry,
Tear stained cheeks now asking why.

And unrequited like is never easy,
No, unrequited like, it's not easy,
But its only that way cause it's supposed to be
It's supposed to be, you see.

You see spring dressed in summertime's clothing.
It's only spring dressed in summertime's clothing.
Love is only love when it lasts.
O love is only love when it lasts.

Your dad and I, we pray for you
And know that it'll come on soon,
You'll see April to May, in the blink of an eye,
In a glance May will turn into June.

Wait for sweet summertime warming,
Wait for sweet summertime's warming.
Love is only love when it lasts, child.
Love is only love when it lasts.

You see spring dressed in summertime's clothing.
It's only spring dressed in summertime's clothing.
Love is only love when it lasts, child.
Love is only love when it lasts.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

LB to Blythey Blythe

This song definitely kept me awake, I think I played it about 23 times in a row. Also, it kinda makes me want to kick box.