Saturday, 13 October 2012

connect-the-dot thoughts...

A couple of months ago, I picked up a copy of My Utmost for His Highest for just twenty-five cents at a neighbourhood garage sale. I felt as though I had struck gold, and I had. This penny-bought classic by Oswald Chambers has proved to be priceless, page after page.

Don't you love how God works?! How He speaks to us about a certain thing over time, at very timely times. How He connects the dots of our thoughts through His ancient living Word, certain meetings with people, specific sermons, several songs, even... particular quotes from a book snagged at a sale. Oh, the divine involvement of His hand in the daily details.

It all started about a year ago, when He illuminated a sentence string of letters from Paul's letter to the Colossians. "May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to God." How does God's big power show up in my little life? His power shows up in my enduring with joy, in my being patient with gratitude. Really? God's power - that spun the planets into motion and spins them still now, that created and calmed the stormy sea with a word, that resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead - that power manifests itself in my persevering with pleasure? Exactly! His power shows up when we show up to work whistling. His power stands out when we stand up to the difficulties of life with hope in our hearts. His power is displayed when we press forward, looking upward to Him Who is high above all, yet low to our call.

The next thought in the line of dots was a clever quote said at the perfect moment. Hundreds of kindred spirits at Kindred Community Church had just finished singing. For two straight hours, strings were strung, drums were drummed, and pianos were played. Voices were on high volume in victorious song! We sang and sang, anthem after anthem of praise to the Saviour of sinners, our Saviour. After the last song was played and sung, my dad said something that I needed to hear. He said, "Inspiration MUST lead to perspiration." He was jolting the church with the reminder that two hours of inspiring and inspired worship on a Sunday night must not end with the last song. Rather, it must fuel Monday morning. The words we had sung must be lived too. The tune in our hearts must be true, and tried and true in the mundane and mournful realities of life. How is this possible outside the walls of the church building? Because God is with us wherever we are, and He Himself is the worthy Subject in all settings.

God continued to play connect-the-dots with my thoughts as I read My Utmost for His Highest. This section glared with rare meaning and blared with application. He says,
"The secret of the Christian life is that the supernatural is made natural in him by the grace of God, and that the experience of this works out in the practical details of life. Ministering as opportunity surrounds us does not mean selecting our surroundings, it means being very selectly God's in any haphazard surroundings which He engineers for us. The things that JESUS did were of the most menial and commonplace order, and this is an indication that it takes all God's power in me to do the most commonplace things in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels and dishes and sandals, all the ordinary sordid things of our lives, reveal more quickly than anything what we are made of. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the meanest duty as it ought to be done."
Jesus not only successfully endured with joy the greatest work of all - the crucifixion; He successfully endured the smallest work of all - the carpenter shop. Though we honour and love our Saviour for His nail-pierced hands; we also must love Him and follow Him for His splintered fingers. Let us follow His example, by His enabling - magnifying Him and ministering to others wherever we find ourselves. When it's dim, we must let His character colour in the grey. When it's dreary, we must invite His company liven up our's. When it's difficult, we must believe His power overflows into our joy and patience.

P.S. Sure, working this all out is a work-out. Like my dad said, it involves sweat. Thankfully though, He works in us and through us to make enduring with joy and patience possible.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Where do we hang our hearts?

Have you heard the modern-day Simon and Garfunkel? All I can say is - hallelujah for harmony! This duo is as dynamic as it gets. Not only can they sing well, they sing wisely. This song, in particular, puts to melody an old truth penned by C.S. Lewis. "Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose."
"Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." - New Testament

Saturday, 4 February 2012


As far back as I can remember, I have always loved a good story. Whether it was read or told by heart, I was all ears. All imagination. All interest. Open heart drinking it all in, eating it all up. Still digesting.

Perhaps it is my being Northern Irish that has to do with this love for a good story. I would not be surprised if one of my first sentences as a child was - "Tell me a story!" And tell me stories they did. Parents. Grand parents (whose sleeves were the fullest). Guests visiting our home. Missionaries coming through our home. Strangers stopping by. Anybody and everybody - "Tell me a story!!!" I would sit, captivated by the tales they had to tell. All different kind of tales - from the funny to the fascinating, from the scary to the sad. Words woven, relations relating past realities that would inspire, make me want to inquire. Narratives of courage and care, that would dare me to be someone, to do something, just like they had been someone, done something. Memories of life and love that would compel me, propel me to live and love. After all, don't those two things go hand in hand? Life, holding, helping hands in love.

So, there I sat. Wee British girl, enthralled, at the feet of whoever was willing to share. Growing up collecting people's stories. Growing up because of other people's stories. Many of my own memories, remembering their memories.

Stories. Words about life, words of life, living legacies.

But, it's definitely more than my being Northern Irish; it is my being a child of God that makes me appreciate good stories still now. All thanks to the grace of Jesus Christ, I am a child of God. And as His child, I have loved His story. He has told it to me over and over again from His Word, and I never tire of it, always desire more of it. Like the New Testament letter says, "Crave the pure, spiritual milk of God's Word, that by it you may grow - if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good." Oh, I have tasted and seen that He is good. So good. Too good. And I want more of His Words, for they tell me about Him, "the Word from the beginning, who became flesh, who made His dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth".

And the reality of His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and glorification is the best story of all. And how glad I am that this story is fact, not fiction - that we, sinful-selfish-souls, can be forgiven and reconciled, and invited into His glory story.

Our filthy rags for Christ's robe of righteousness is the first great exchange. The second - our futile, boring mini-dramas that are passing away for God's glory story that is from everlasting to everlasting. He made the stars; He is the Star. And we are part of the cast; we are the choir in the soundtrack of this spanning, stretching story. Though seemingly small, we must remember that we are not, because His hands are infinitely big and busy weaving together a marvelous story of redemption. We only get to "see in part" on earth, and these parts may seem minute and mysterious at times. But of this we can be sure - how the story culminates. People from all around the world uniting with the angels above, crying out - “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Until that day, that glorious forever-day, we have the riveting role of being His servants on earth. Act one, two and three, etc. - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our script - the Good News of so great a salvation to all people.

Oh, let us listen to stories. Oh, let us be good Story-tellers.

Friday, 27 January 2012

prayer & paradox

Perfect God,
"Not that I loved you, but that You loved me."
These words of Your's continually cause hope to swell up in my heart,
to overflow out of my life into others.
Your love is so undeserved, yet unreserved.

Lord, help me to always love others like You have loved me.
Graciously. Generously. Gladly.

This is Your intended way -
that You bless us so that we can bless others;
that it is more blessed to give than to receive;
that in service, we are most free;
that in surrender, we are most secure;
that in the losing, is the finding of life;
that being rich in mercy is true treasure;
that helplessness precedes hopefulness;
that humility ushers in victory;
that grace generates good works;
that Your beauty shines through the broken;
that You oppose the proud,
but give grace to the humble.

Help me walk in Your wonderful, full-of-wonder way,
because You are worthy.

All this - from You, by You, for You.

In Jesus' name,
let it be.