today’s two posts in one

the short one
On Thanksgiving evening, we love to watch a good movie. Often we go out, but there really isn’t any great show on right now that beckons us. We’ll probably stay in and watch an old one on TV. One of my favorite old movies is “The Hiding Place” starring Jeannette Cliff George as Corrie ten Boom. If you haven’t seen it, run and get a copy for your library. It is one to watch more than once. It is the true story of amazing miracles during the Holocaust at Auschwitz. Depending on your children’s ages, it is not appropriate for anyone under ten or so, but is a great selection for a mixed group of adults.

What do you do after the Thanksgiving meal? Need I ask, is football on the menu? A nap? Are you going to see a movie? And my most pressing question: Who does the dishes?

the long one


(I can’t get the song link to play the whole song. If you like, click on it and go to imeem.com and listen to the whole song–it has awesome lyrics.)
Jeannette Cliff George (who now resides in Houston and is the artistic director for a Christian playhouse called the A.D. Players) once wisely quipped, “God is never late. But He rarely takes an opportunity to show up early.” I’ve noticed something similar about God’s timing. He never gives us a task He doesn’t equip us for, but He often waits to equip until we say yes to the task. I realized today that I am waiting for Him to equip me before I start His work, much of the time. There is a time for waiting on God’s timing, but this is not it. That kind of waiting it is a whole other blog-worthy topic, but not today’s. The kind of waiting I’m talking about is choosing not to do what I know I am supposed to be doing. When we wait, we are saying to God “No” or at the very least, “Not yet.” Neither are poor responses if He is directing us to slow down and wait. However, when we know God is telling us to do something for His Kingdom, and yet we still wait for the great launch, we are being disobedient to His call. Let me tell you something. Just because there’s no lightning bolt revelation or thunder from heaven, it does not mean God is not prompting us, asking us to step out in faith. I’ve been sitting here waiting and have decided the great launch isn’t coming. I’m the one that is expected to move. I’m the one that has to step out one step in faith, and the anointing will come. I think it’s time for me to get up off the couch of procrastination and jump in, or at least put one foot in the water again.

This isn’t the first time God has tried to teach me this truth. A couple of years ago, my business partner and I were doing a speaking engagement. Our forte was children and this audience was a more sophisticated group of adults than we were comfortable with. When we spoke, we always started the same way—we’d pray over the phone the morning of the engagement, and He would give us the grace we needed for that event. It worked miraculously well for two women who loved to talk but didn’t like to speak. However, on this particular engagement, we had not felt clearly what we were to speak on, and truly, if we could hold their interest long enough to get more than a polite applause at the end knowing they were just glad we were sitting down.

We were rushed that morning and only started praying together on our cell phones driving to the event. Though we prayed, I felt very insecure, and told my friend I didn’t have the peace I usually had. In fact, as we walked in, I was convinced that we were on our own and said as much, being the faith-filled one that I am. No anointing. No equipping. No special mercies. Not even a good opening line. A hundred thoughts raced through my mind as we entered the room. I hate feeling unprepared and nervous. I hate it when others are unprepared and nervous, too. Nobody likes to feel uncomfortable, but especially no one likes to feel alone and stranded. We smiled as we walked in, though our stomachs were tied in knots. We were greeted by a nice looking man in a suit who came up and introduced himself and told us he was the president of the group and would be introducing us.

He said, “Hi, I’m Bruce Hillegeist.” My friend questioned back, “Hillegeist? What an unusual last name.”
He replied, “Yes, it means Holy Ghost. I just tell people my name is Bruce Holy Ghost.”

It didn’t take us long to realize that God has quite a sense of humor. Not only did He show up, but He walked right up to us and introduced Himself. It was all we could do not to burst into laughter when we caught each other’s eye with the Can you believe it? look. I have no idea what we said after that. I do know one thing: He orchestrated all of it to say, “Do you trust Me? Come here. Trust Me. I am here.”

After finishing the Esther Bible study where God is not mentioned once in the whole book, we saw how He was all over every page and every detail of the story. How about you? I wonder if you have had similar times when you felt God was far away, only to finally turn around and see He was right there all along. What is it that you know God wants you to do? Are you like me, waiting for the atomic launch of equipping? Are you waiting or procrastinating? There’s a difference. “And let us consider how we may spur each other on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

attitude adjustment

Paul and Silas, after being beaten severely, and taken to a dark, dungeon prison, were praying and singing (imagine!) around midnight. They probably were singing at that hour because they were in such pain that they couldn’t rest their weary heads. They were singing despite their pain, despite their chains of being in prison. They were praying possibly for themselves, but I have to wonder if they weren’t praying for their persecutors and others in bondage there because look what happens next. The guard and his family are brought to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus. God causes the earth to quake and everyone’s chains fall to the ground. Oh, the power of praise to an almighty Power who not only heard their cries, but set them all free.

They could have sat there in their misery and nursed their wounds but they sang. Does that get to you the way it does me? Have you ever not felt like going to church, but you did it, and later realized how much better you felt? God takes those sacrificial praise moments and uses them to bless us. Our attitude toward our situation is often the only thing within the realm of our control. And we often can’t shake it off on our own very well.

My mother used to say, “Young lady, you need an attitude change right now.” I didn’t deserve the respect of being called a young lady at those times, so it was probably more of a reminder of how I was supposed to act, but it meant I better straighten up or else. Not sure what “or else” meant, but I knew I feared it. Today, I find myself needing an attitude change, not because of a beating like Paul and Silas, not because of an admonition from my mother, but because I know God desires more than I have to offer in this state. Bound by sadness over the anniversary of the loss of one of my children’s best friends and a self focus, I’m truly of little use to myself much less anyone else this morning. To be fit for Kingdom use, I must call upon His Name and watch the chains fall again. He’ll do it for the asking. I need only to start the praise music and call on Him in prayer. He’s gracious to save me not only eternally but each day, each hour. I love that about my God. He delivers me from myself. He delivers me to the joy of His realm here on earth right here in the moment. Bless His mighty Name.

on being whole

Okay, forget normal. Do you believe that at any given point in time any of us achieve wholeness? I realize that at any moment our wholeness could be taken from us and another healing process would start again. But I have to ask: Is being made complete always a process and direction in which we are going or is it ever, even for a split second, a destination to which we arrive prior to heaven if we are in Christ?

If you know me well, you know this is not purely an intellectual question. Just about every question I have for God comes out of some painful place, this time being one where I am frustrated and disgusted by my retarded maturity. I can answer with all honesty that there have been times when I have felt complete satisfaction, complete joy, or an overtaking of complete Love, but never completeness or a sense of being entirely whole.

We are supposed to be growing and pressing on toward the goal of completion, and yet, it seems as I grow older, I feel more inadequate than I did when I was younger. When I was young, it appeared (key phrase) that I was more together than I am now. Now, I just feel more exposed, more vulnerable—and yet, because of that, more compassionate and more indebted to God for His new mercies each day. I don’t want this to be self-absorbed contemplation, but I ask today, because several of my sisters in Christ are asking some of the same questions. I ask because I see others who seem to have it together more than I, who are definitely farther along in their walk toward Christ. I ask because I feel stunted in the same old areas where I struggle. I ask because I wonder if you, too, ever feel a sense of disappointing God.

I seem to be more effective in His Kingdom when I forget my own lack of proficiency in being a useable instrument. I simply say if You will redeem and use me, here I am. I find great freedom in that. I could argue with God about being all slow of speech like Moses, but my tongue is faster than my brain so that would be more of what my “But God. . .” would look like. I could argue that I am so fearful and am a terrible representative for His Name because I show so little fruit in all that He has shown me. And all of that would be true, but of very little relevance to God.

I know that He equips us for every good work, and He can even use a donkey to accomplish His purposes, with or without my cooperation. His Will will be done. The only question is whether or not I go willingly. Any time I feel defeated to the point of being unusable by God in an area, it is more about an unwillingness on my part and perhaps self pity and false humility. Lord, let me be more like Samuel with his “Here am I. Speak, for your servant is listening” attitude.

I guess we all are where we are, and nothing else is really a relevant question. Being whole will one day be a reality, even if it isn’t day after tomorrow. And maybe being broken (and having a God-size hole) is a vital part to becoming whole. Feeling defeated is not from God, and He only makes it relevant to Him out of His compassion for us. He knows better because He is the God Who completes us, the Lord of all hope and promise. He is the future. He is the healing. He is.

and then what?

I have often heard it said that ultimately there are only two real emotions: fear and love. If you translate that into Christian terms, Christ as Love Himself is the ultimate Peace Giver and Fear Eraser. His perfect love casts out all fear. In our humanness, love often begins with being fearful and vulnerable to the point of pain, and being open enough to be exposed and insecure. Have you ever noticed how a baby is so easily startled? Children are often afraid of so many things, and they slowly learn to trust, if they are loved. Our natural state is to fear, but through our walk growing in Christ, we learn His Love is the answer. It is our life’s journey. It starts with fear and ends in Love.

Love in its purest form, heals. It removes fear and insecurity and vulnerability and takes us on a journey to a place of peace we never thought we would achieve, and certainly not a place we would arrive on our own. Christ as Love Himself is our Supplier and our infilling for this complex and beautiful emotion.

We will eventually come to the warmth of this Truth, one way or another. We all have done it. We set up someone or something to be our savior to love us out of our fear. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly and painfully, but always deliberately, God will lead us to Him. Our life’s path is to one day know Perfect Love as Christ Himself, fully unveiled.

In Bible study last night, one line stood out above all the others. I listened to a repeat of last week on tape and the topic was (again) fear. Beth told of when fear had grabbed her most, God finally brought her to the bottom line. She said God kept asking her to keep answering “If ___then what?” I might not make it. I will be alone. I will be so hurt. I will just lose it altogether. I could die. Fear invokes so many different responses, none of them terribly pleasant. But keep asking, “And then what?” When you get to the last, “And then what?” The answer is always the same. “And then, God.” It ends so well. We, who are in Christ, live happily ever after. Even if we are fearing death itself, it ends the same. And then, God.

standing in the gap


Do you ever feel like you’re just barely keeping your head above the water, almost drowning in life with all its expectations, hopes and disappointments, and just knowing what lies on the horizon ahead? With God’s help, I am able to keep my head above the water now fairly well but feel the desperate tug of others’ arms as they gulp in water and their heads bob up and down in their dark seas. I am not in any particular crisis in my own life, but my compassion for those around me just plain hurts. God gave me this compassion to have a heart for others. It hasn’t always been this way for me. I was consumed for years with surface-level living, and hardly looked up to see those around me.

The funny thing is that I am pretty sure God is placing these sweet, dear ones on my heart for a reason. It’s for all of us. Not just to help them, but to teach me to know just a little how Christ felt when He looked into the eyes of the suffering, helping me not only to respond with pity but action. We are all called to be the Hands and Feet, and even sometimes, the most glorious Heart of Christ. No doubt, I am not doing this the way Christ calls us to when I feel overwhelmed. I know there is balance where He wants me to come and sit at His Feet and cast it on Him on their behalf. Certainly to pray for them, but I believe, in a strange way, to help carry the burden. And, Lord, if I can carry them through any of this pain, please let me have that privilege. If you need some working arms and a heart for You, here I am. If You need an ear for the lonely, the discouraged, the down-trodden in life, I have two that work well, thanks be to God. And You certainly know by now that I have a mouth that could be used for good. If I could be like the paraplegic’s friends and carry the cot, it is my honor to do so, in the Mighty Name of Jesus. You tell us that it was because of the friends’ faith, You healed him. Let me stand in the gap for those who cannot for themselves carry the load, Lord. I believe God is so much bigger than anything we face here, and I know He carries us, sometimes Personally and sometimes through our sisters and brothers.

I told Mike the other day as we were chatting, “You want to know a scary thought? These ARE the good times.” It was a stark realization, as we spoke of all the difficulties of our friends. It reminds me of the scene in “As Good As It Gets” with Jack Nicholson, as he walks out of the psychiatrist’s office and much to the dismay of all those around him in the waiting room, says, “What if this is as good as it gets?” The expression on their faces is one of sheer horror. It was funny at the time, but I feel strongly that times are getting more difficult as we draw closer to the return of Christ, and this may be more the average than the extraordinary. The good news, in all of this is that as we battle, we can look forward to that Day all the more, knowing we are closer each day to the most Glorious Eternal Day we have ever known. And in the meantime, may we keep treading water strong and finish this race well, and maybe give God a little glory through each struggle.