Sunday, March 6, 2011

Psalms in motion

For my Old Testament History class, I have to write seven psalms, one in each of the major styles exhibited in the Book of Psalms.

I am finding this kind of writing, a way with words that is far off my usual course, rather cathartic. No wonder David found rest here.

One major challenge is to write words that are meaningful, knowing that I will be graded on how and whether they conform to particular styles.

The psalm types are: hymns, which are songs of praise and thanksgiving to God; penitential, which confess sorrow for sin and appeal to God for grace and forgiveness; wisdom, which are general observations on life, especially God and our relationship to Him; royal, which focus on the king as son of David and as God’s chosen man to rule his people; messianic, which describe some aspect of the Messiah’s person or ministry; imprecatory, which call for God’s judgment against the enemies of God and/or his people; and lament, which lament one’s condition and may include a statement of trust in God and affirmation of praise to Him (Arnold, Bill, “Encountering the Old Testament,” p. 307).

I’m considering posting these psalms here. In a way, I foresee this as yet another Ebenezer. If I raise it here, if I raise it at all, the words are out there for all to see. The psalms of lament, the psalms of penitence, the psalms that call for judgment — they will, in a way, no longer be mine. I wonder whether David and Moses knew how far-reaching the pouring out of their souls would be. Writing for me has always been personal. I wonder whether this was true for the psalmists as well.
They say, “Here is my sin, for the world to see. Learn from my mistakes. Praise always. Repent when you can’t take the weight of your own arrogance anymore. Amen and amen.”

And so I creep down this path, so unfamiliar, with a fistful of words I must set free. Praying they rise, a sweet fragrance to the God of mercy, the One whose class I am most eager to excel in.

*Cross-posted to

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guide me there

Good morning, friends.
It's been so long since our last post, and for that I am truly sorry.

I wanted to talk a bit today about something that has been weighing heavy on my heart.
The idea, simply, is mentorship.
My questions to you are, what is your definition of biblical mentorship? What do you think it means? What do you think it looks like, or ought to look like? And, most importantly, do you have have or need it in your life?

For some time now, I've been strongly advocating something like accountability. Something that helps us stay on the straight and narrow, if you will. But for months, I have had this ache that suggests to me that we need something more than that. We need those Paul-Barnabas-Timothy relationships (someone to learn from, someone to walk with, someone to teach). My fear is that we spend all of our energy on finding those Barnabas relationships (which, in truth, are often so hard to come by).
But what about the Pauls? The Timothys? Who is mentoring you? Who are you teaching?

I'd love to see a more formal -- or at least, more intentional -- effort at creating mentorship opportunities, but it's a hard hill to climb. It can be difficult finding people who "fit" you, folks you can trust enough to learn from. We're all looking for the genuine article, here, and we've been so often disappointed. And so it requires a lot of faith and willingness to be raw. (Scared yet?)

Is this something you're up for? We know it would require time and an intentional effort -- things that sometimes seem too much to give.

My heart for this has come from the realization that we soon will inherit the church. That shift may have already begun. And for those of us who are mothers: We are raising up the church of the future.
Our husbands might be future elders, if not pastors.
How better can we walk the road before us if we have a guide, if we learn from those farther along on the path?
Ladies, you know it takes tremendous strength just to meet the day. It takes courage to deal with just today, right? How much more, then, should we shoring up for the days ahead?
The truth is, I would be much better off today if I had adequately prepared for it a season ago in my life.

As far as I can tell, this is our best shot at 20/20 foresight.

So, how is this done? How do I find a mentor? How do I find a young woman to share my journey with?
Or, you might disagree entirely. Maybe mentorship isn't necessary, in your eyes. Maybe formal relationships aren't what you are looking for. Tell me why. I'd love to engage in a real discussion about this.

Think about it, and let's talk.

Grace and peace,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

“The tongue of the wise brings healing”

Good morning, friends. I love today’s post title. It is the second half of my favorite proverb, and it is immensely appropriate for today’s discussion.

So, I don’t know about you, but I was extremely challenged by our study together this week. In fact, this study was probably the one during which I prayed most – while I was teaching it.

You see, there have been a lot of instances lately where I find myself “speaking the truth” to people I very much care for. And I always, always have to go through that checklist – right motives? encouraging words? – before I can say anything at all. I was terribly encouraged by the fact that Paul didn’t like doing it much either!

So, your challenge this week was to think of someone you may need to “speak the truth in love” to. And I was thinking about it: It doesn’t have to be a “Get behind me, Satan” kind of discussion. The Lord may be laying someone on your heart who needs to hear that you are aware of an awkwardness between you, or someone who needs to be told that they matter to both you and the Lord. Sometimes, it’s difficult to speak truth in even these situations, because our own fears of rejection or MYOBness are hindrances.

Beloved, let it never be said that someone doesn’t know truth simply because we were afraid of how the consequences would affect us.

I know how hard this is. I have always hated the idea of being confrontational. I get knots in my stomach and lumps in my throat just at the thought of having an uncomfortable conversation. But we must stop placing ourselves – our fears, our doubts, our discomfort, our preferences – at the center of all things. They can no longer be our motivators. They are things to overcome, not things to bow down to. Let’s refuse to watch someone struggle in their relationships or with their faith simply because of whatever our own fear issues are.

Conversely, let’s be sure that whatever we say, our words are authored by the Lord; let our tongues – just tools, really – reflect the intent, methods and workmanship of their Designer.

Your thoughts?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The sacrifice

Good afternoon, dear friends.

For many reasons, I have been thinking constantly about love’s sacrifice. It is perfect that tonight our study takes us through the high calling love truly is on our lives. Love is patient. Love is kind.

Can you do it? Will you?

Last Wednesday, we celebrated Passover. We were reminded of God’s gracious hand through the ages. There’s this beautiful part of the Seder that follows the telling of the exodus:

Leader: God has shown us so many acts of kindness and grace. For each one, we say dayeinu (which means, “it would have been enough”). If only the Lord God had taken us out of Egypt . . .

People:  Dayeinu! (It would have been enough!)

Leader: If only the Lord God had taken us out of Egypt and not passed judgment on the Egyptians . . .

People:  Dayeinu!

Leader: If only the Lord God had passed judgment on the Egyptians and not parted the sea for us . . .

People:  Dayeinu!

Leader: If only the Lord God had parted the sea for us and not taken care of us and fed us manna in the desert for 40 years. . .

People:  Dayeinu!

Leader: If only the Lord God had taken care of us and fed us manna in the desert for 40 years and not given us the Sabbath rest . . .

People:  Dayeinu!

Leader: If only the Lord God had given us the Sabbath rest and not brought us to Mount Sinai and given us the Torah . . .

People:  Dayeinu!

Leader: If only the Lord God had brought us to Mount Sinai and given us the Torah and not brought us into the land of Israel. . .

People:  Dayeinu!

Leader: For all these, alone and together, we say . . .

People:  Dayeinu!]

God’s grace has long been upon His people. And His love – perfect and unending and pure – is the ultimate example of sacrificial love. God saved the Hebrews from Pharoah, knowing that later they’d whine, complain, abandon Him, and choose other lovers. Unsatisfied with burning bushes and pillars of smoke, with prophets and priests, they’d ask for someone else.

Tonight, we discuss love being both patient and kind. And this week’s Easter celebration of reconciliation with the Lord proves to us that God is perfectly, unwaveringly both of these things. The picture below is one that always reminds me of these things. I took it Santuario de Chimayo. Every year, hundreds of people walk to this tiny church on Good Friday. They walk to identify with Christ. They nail their tiny crosses to an old tree behind the church. They sit on stone pews and offer prayers. They give thanks. They know His sacrifice, His patience, His kindness.

His patience enabled Him to take every lash of the whip, every insult, every nail for us. He “suffered long” on our behalf, for the glory of God and the sanctification of God’s enemies, His estranged sons and daughters.

pewsI spent much of my weekend thinking about the kindness of the Lord. I told Joy today that I think patience is taking a punch without retribution but kindness is washing the feet of the person who hit you.

On that Passover night nearly 2,000 years ago, Christ our Lord washed the feet of a dozen men in a tiny upper room. It’s easy for me to picture these men, embarrassed and uncomfortable, grateful and moved at the sight of their kneeling Lord. But what is more difficult for me to wrap my brain around is knowing that Christ also washed the feet of Peter, knowing full well that the man would betray him again and again later that night. He washed the feet of Judas, the man He knew would sell him for a sack of silver.

Again and again, God is gracious. Again and again, He is patient. Again and again, the Lord is kind. He can’t not be these things. He’s not only washed our feet, but he’s cleansed our whole being, knowing that we’d betray His love time after time.

And he’s asking us to be the same, yet not by our own might. He’s given us the Holy Spirit, who is the fullness of kindness and patience, to dwell within us.

So I wonder: Why is this calling so hard? Why do we not wash the feet of our enemies and seek out good for them, if that is what He Himself has done for us? He has saved us from that which enslaves us; as He saved His people from Pharoah, so also has He saved us from death and sin and agony. Not because we are so darn lovable and deserve it, and not because anybody had a right to be saved, but because this is who He is: He is Love, full of patience, full of kindness. He is love in all its forms, be it noun, verb or adjective.

And He’s asked us to be the same, knowing that we are His body, the tangible representation of Himself to the whole world. He knows what He’s asking; He knows that we are asked, as Christ was, to endure much from people who betray us, who smite us, who hurt us, who don’t “get” us, who stop loving us back. But He’s given us Himself, He’s given us the power, He’s given us the way to do it.

The will is all that’s up to us. The desire to, like Him, be love to the world, to our neighbors, to our families and friends.

So, I ask again: Can you do it? Will you?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

For my sisters around the coffee table

I accidentally posted this blog here last week. I meant to post it to my personal one and clicked on the wrong button. (It's a dangerous thing for me to have edit capabilities on two blogs) With some encouragment from T, I submitt it here for your consideration and most of all your prayers. For those of you who know me well, you know that so much of this struggle comes from watching someone I love more than I can say, destroy thier life from the inside out.

One of the most profound experiences of my Christian journey came in the form of chastisement and the tender age of about 14. I remember every detail with great clarity; as if it happened to me yesterday. I was reading a book that was absolutely fascinating. I was riveted. However, the main character kept cursing God. I'm not talking about just cussing with the Lord's name it it (as if that wasn't bad enough). He was out and out cursing God as a liar, sadist and all sorts of other horrible things. I felt very strongly I was being told to put this book down. It was not for me. But I couldn't. The plot had me transfixed. Over and over I was told to put it down and I refused. Finally, I experienced what I can only assume was the Lord "giving me over" as the bible talks about in Romans, and letting me fully experience the consequences of my chosen sin. Suddenly I was consumed with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. In the passage of the book I was reading the charaecter was insisting that we all die and wither in the ground as worms eat us. (I know... I was I ever riveted by this I don't know but I was) Anyway, I really believe, for a moment, the Lord removed His protection from my mind and I was allowed to fully experience that despair and what it would feel like to truly believe there is nothing. Everything is meaningless. Take what you can out of life because in the end you're just worm food. It was terrible. I cannot fully describe it to this day. I immediately grabbed my Bible and began reading every passage I could find where Christ promised that He is the Resurrection and the Light and he that believe in Me shall never die. I read it over and over and over until my fears were silenced, my spirit quieted, and my hope restored.
These days I find myself in a similar conundrum. This time it is not because of any act of disobedience but just because I cannot get my head to be still. My time in Texas for some reason has me bombarded with DOUBT. Every question I dared never utter has come rearing its ugly head and chipping away at my faith, which until now has been ROCK SOLID. I told my mom the other day if something doesn't go a particular way that I think it should, I'm going to be so angry with God. (And even as I type that confession my mind reels with exactly the same question; Just who do I think I am?) But I immediately followed that statement with this one. "All I know these days is that God is good all the time and all the time God is good. And I can never question His love for me because Christ's death on the cross has forever demonstrated that to me." And now more than ever, I find myself clinging to those two simple truths. And as I did at 14, I find when I permeate myself with them, my fears are silenced, my spirit is quieted and my hope is restored. For me, gone are the days of cookie cutter answerers to life's tough questions. They bring no comfort. I am in a place of clinging only to TRUTH that cannot be reduced any further. God is good and He is love and because of that I can trust Him. Mark 9:24 has become so sweet to me: "Lord I believe, please help my unbelief."
I must confess that as I write this blog I'm arguing with myself on whether or not to actually post it. It is so immensely personal. But I cannot help but think that in these times of great uncertainty I am probably not the only one struggling. So I post this for my friends and family who I know are struggling through great difficulties of their own. I admonish you my brothers and sisters to hang in there and voice your doubts to our Father. He is more than able to handle them!

Friday, March 27, 2009

With all your heart, with all your soul…

Hi, girls. I have thought endlessly about our discussion Monday night. Have you?

I’m still stewing over the different ways I can show my love to my God, my Savior, my King.

With my soul, where His Spirit dwells, love is as simple and as complicated utilizing the Fruit, by meditating on His Word, by keeping His tent clean. I am loving Him by trying to not quench Him.

With my heart, I show Him love by making sure it is His. I am loving Him when my heart is undivided. I am loving Him when I put Him first. I am loving Him when I am stoking the flames of passion for Him.

This week, my challenge has been to love Him with my mind. I have had trouble remaining focused on the things that I know please Him. I am so easily distracted – by news, by entertainment, by boredom, by restlessness, by sleep. My world lately is a series of mouse clicks and hyperlinks. But I am honoring Him when I use that time wisely, to do the work I know He has set before me.

This is my race to run, I am reminded. And I am doing no one any favors or honor (including Christ, the community of faith, and myself) when I doddle and meander.

Thank you, dear ones, for sharing in this journey with me. I loved our lesson from Monday night. (I cherish but apologize for all the tears!) We, lovelies, are on the ride of our lives – examining this holy Love Letter together. I have learned so much, and I am grateful for the sometimes violent, always beautiful purification process.

With love and prayers,


Friday, March 20, 2009

Dearly beloved

Greetings, girls.
I was just thinking about you all today. I feel so blessed to be a part of your lives, to be a part of your walk with the Lord. I love being witness to your growth and knowing that we are sharing the beauty every week.

My question is, what has the Lord been talking to you about lately? I want to hear Him through your words, your voices.

Hit me back. I'll post my own thoughts in the comments, too.

Love to all (and happy Friday),