Monday, September 28, 2009

Confession and Assurance

This was in our bulletin at church yesterday. Adapted from Rev. Tod Loder's poem "Empty Me."

Gracious and Holy One, Creater of all things,
We come to you full of much that clutters and distracts us, stifles and burdens us, and makes us a burden to others.

Loving Father,
Empty us now of gnawing dissatisfactions, of anxious imaginings, of fretful preoccupations, of nagging prejudices, of old scores to settle, and of the arrogance of being right.

Eternal Son,
Empty us now of the way we unthinkingly think of ourselves as powerless, or as victims, predetermined by sex, age, race - as being less than we are or as being other than yours.

Sweet Holy Spirit,
Empty us of the disguises and lies in which we hide ourselves from other people and from our responsibility for our neighbors and the world.

Redeemer God,
Hollow out in us a space that you can fill with our transformed selves, peace, a whole heart, a forgiving spirit, holiness, and laughter. Fill us with yourself, we pray, for your sake, and the sake of the world.


I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasure at your right hand. (Ps 16:7-11)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hard to believe

All in one short year....

Manny-Man, we LOVE you, son. You are living proof that God gives us precious, good gifts. It's hard to imagine our family without you. We pray that your little heart will be captivated by passionate love for our Saviour, and an unrelenting fight to bring Him great glory in your life. He loves you more than we ever could!

Happy Birthday, buddy! It was such a joy watching the first year of your sweet, sweet life.

Daddy and Mommy

Monday, September 21, 2009

Intercession for the monkey

I've been worried about Isaiah's lack of desire to pray. He normally just asks us to pray for him. Sometimes (though getting more and more frequent) he prays for his food by himself.

Well. All my worries were just washed away when I heard this piece of eloquence-without-measure coming from his bathroom. The room where discipline usually takes place as well. Apparently the monkey had a hard heart.

"Jesus, help us for the monkey to pray. And Jesus, help us for the monkey to share. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

God is shouting

I have been absolutely itching to write this post. I kept waiting on fully complete thoughts and well polished execution, but....well....this is what you get instead. I can't wait any longer. I'm sure it will resemble a scrambled egg with bits and pieces everywhere (and by no means exhaustive), but this is the best I can do today. :)

I feel like, rather, I KNOW God had been speaking loudly to me. Shouting. I rarely feel like this. In fact, I usually am straining to hear Him above the other racket in my heart. This season is very different, and one of the ways I know this is because He's speaking to me from all over the place. It's a theme in my life. It's everywhere! His word, friends, blogs, books, etc.

Rather than try to articulate this myself, I'm going to let others who say it better.

First, let me say that I am LOVING this book! I had no idea it would become so popular when Amazon first recommended it to me, but it makes perfect sense. It's exciting to know that God is moving many other hearts in a similar way.

Here's part of what I last read in it. It captures a lot of this theme. He had just quoted 2 Cor 8:13-15 and then says...

"Paul was asking the Corinthian believers to give to the impoverished saints in Jerusalem, the goal being that no one would have too much or too little. This is pretty far-fetched in modern-day culture, where we are taught to look out for ourselves and are thus rewarded.

The gap is so extreme in our world that we have to take lightly passages such as Luke 12:33: 'Sell your possessions and give to the poor.' How else can I walk out of a mud shack and back into my two-thousand-square-foot house without doing anything? The concept of downsizing so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful... and nearly unheard of. We either close the gap or don't take the words of the Bible literally.

Dare to imagine what it would mean for you to take the words of Jesus seriously. Dare to think about your own children living in poverty without enough to eat. Dare to believe that those really are your brothers and sisters in need."

Later he says...

" Back when I was in Bible college, a professor asked our class, 'What are you doing right now that requires faith?' That question affected me deeply because at the time I could think of nothing in my life that required faith. I probably wouldn't be living very differently if I didn't believe in God; my life was neither ordered nor affected by my faith like I had assumed it was."

Yesterday, Kelly posted about this post by Thabiti Anyabwile. It should break your heart and wake you up. If it doesn't, pray that it will. Pray that it takes the full effect in your life it deserves. I'm praying that too. He gets very much at the heart of what I think God is shouting to me after he paints the tragic picture he saw in South Africa of an entire generation of people dying out because of poverty and AIDS:

"I'm looking at this scene in Africa--and it could be in most any place in the world--and I just can't justify the idea that my only task as a Christian and a preacher is to preach the gospel. I can't justify the idea that if I only preach the gospel--which I must preach and treasure and guard--then I've been faithful even if I've not served the needs around me. When you're standing this close to the naked, brazen effects of sin and depravity, you realize that Christ's work of redemption is our only hope and that we need to act in that same hope.

Today's visit to one town reveals to me the betrayal it is to claim to be gospel people and not be merciful people."

How do we make this so separate and for so long? It's tragic!!!

I'm overwhelmed and sad that I've overlooked Jesus right in front of me...hungry, thirsty, hurt, naked, homeless... It saddens me that I've cried for the poor and needy at my computer screen, and that's where it ended.

I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in,
I need clothes and you did not clothe me,
I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me...

I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of
the least of these, you did not do for me.
Mt 25: 42-43, 45

Chan asks a good question:

"We see it as a fresh perspective on poverty rather than a literal picture of impending judgement. How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came in contact with as Christ--the person driving painfully slow in front of me, the checker at the grocery store who seems more interested in chatting than ringing up my items, the member of my own family with whom I can't seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed?"

But here's the other thing.... I really believe that while yes, giving is for the other person, it's for us too! I've been missing out. Joy is promised, treasure in Heaven, but better than it all, we get Jesus. I think this is going deeper than where we've been.

I've always been passionately convinced that when you go overseas, you see parts of who God is and what He's doing that you just can't see from where you're sitting. I really do believe that. But I think the same is true for sacrificial giving. It opens up something that was closed before. God gave us Jesus. I think giving brings deeper fellowship with the greatest Giver.

So right now, I'm struggling with the fleshing it out part. Josh and I need to brainstorm, dream and rethink our budget.

We need to repent. And ask for His help. We need Him to change us.

Can't wait to keep you updated.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Little Foxes

I'm really struggling with how to be a wife and a mom. I'm not doing so good, and there's plenty of proof. We're in the thick of this, and it's hard. Maybe the hardest thing our marriage has gone through.

Today it was just Manny and me in the house so I had some quiet for awhile. What came out of that time was journaling, tears and just crying out to the Lord for help.

After time with Him, He gently led me to read this article by Barbara Rainey. Oh, the little foxes! I don't know what you think of her, but I really needed it. It's practical, but it addressed this particular issue really well. It felt like medicine I badly needed.

In fact, I read multiple articles at Family Life. Like this one called "Stressed, Exhausted and Not in the Mood," and this one called, "5 Keys to Your Man's Inner Heart," and the one about "Reviving a Dimished Sex Drive."

(and aren't you glad you asked how I was doing in that area?)

I feel like the Lord used today to refresh me and start pulling me out of this funk. I know it's going to take a lot of work (Josh and Isaiah aren't even home yet), but I needed a good friend to sit me down and say, "It's normal. You're not crazy. I understand why you're tired. But you need to put Josh first in your family. The boys will be ok."

And I think that's what He did.

BTW, if you feel like sharing, I'd love to hear if you've been there before. I don't hear folks talking about it much, but I know it would encourage me to know others are with me. :)