Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bring Me Joy

I'm a little dry for original content during these final days of soaking up every last juicy drop of summer and gearing up for a wild and crazy fall. I'll pick up my pen again sometime soon, but until then, this prayer by Scotty Smith hit the spot today. I hope it encourages you, too.

A Prayer About Our Anxieties and God's Joy

Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:17-19

Heavenly Father, as much as I’d love for you to lift me right out of a couple of anxiety producing scenarios, you seem to have another plan in mind. So if you’ll get more glory by keeping me right where I am, so be it. But please, do for me what you did for the Psalmist. Come stabilize my slipping feet with your unfailing love. Make my eternal standing in grace a present reality, or I might lace up my running shoes and head out for my version of Tarshish (Jonah 1).

Console me in my great anxiety with your joy-producing presence. Unlike the Psalmist, I’m not facing “the silence of death,” by the hands of my enemies. My situation feels more like the collision of limitless needs to be met in a limited time frame with limited resources—especially emotional resources. When I get emotionally drained, Father, I tend to make bad choices… but you already know that…

I try to micromanage the unmanageable, and that never works out very well for me, never. I start acting like the 4th member of the Trinity. In the absence of soul delight I ramp up my duty quota. I listen less, talk faster and try harder. My body may be in the house but my soul is somewhere hiking in the Swiss Alps. People would rather be around the mumps than me, when I’m emotionally empty.

That’s why I need your joy, Father, for your joy is my strength. My lack of joy is my bane and drain. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). I need to hear your consoling laugher. I need your invigorating liberating felicity on my piece of the earth as it is in your glorious heaven. I don’t need you to tell me “Everything’s going to be alright.” I theologically know and honestly believe that. I am really convinced, “stoked” and thrilled about our coming life in the new heaven and new earth. It’s the next “fifteen minutes” that have me worked up.

To know you are with me, in joy and for me, with joy, will be enough. And be with my friends who join me in this prayer today—those who have different stories but offer the same cry. Together we look to Jesus, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross that we might be endeared to you forever. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ great and gracious name.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Give Them Grace


I'm discovering what I think could be my new all-time favorite parenting book.

(I'm seriously thinking about throwing all the others away.)

And I'm so wishing that I would have read this 11 years ago.

You'll hear more about it as I digest it all.

For now, here's something to chew on...

"Everything that isn't gospel is law. Let us say it again: everything that isn't gospel is law. Every way we try to make our kids good that isn't rooted in the good news of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ is damnable, crushing, despair-breeding, Pharisee-producing law. We won't get the results we want from the law. We'll get either shallow self-righteousness or blazing rebellion or both (frequently from the same kid in the same day!). We'll get moralistic kids who are cold and hypocritical and who look down on others (and could easily become Mormons), or you'll get teens who are rebellious and self-indulgent and who can't wait to get out of the house. We have to remember that in the life of our unregenerate children, the law is given for one reason only: to crush their self confidence and drive them to Christ." (pg. 36, Give them Grace, by Fitzpatrick and Thompson)

The title especially drew me in. Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus.

Love that word--dAZzLiNg!

More to come...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Power for Peace

I've been practicing peace this summer. It's been refreshing and healing, but hard. You see, my natural default is worry, anxiety, and fear. I'm not proud of that, but I'm learning that this is one area where God is transforming me and making me new. And that's a good thing. (Shedding pride is a good thing, too, by the way.)

Most of all, I am learning that when I invite the real presence of God into each area of my life, I am inviting the very Prince of Peace, and I am grafted into Him. While this battle happens in my heart, it starts in my mind. Remembering truth. Resting in God's promises. Relying on what Jesus accomplished for me. Only then can I produce the fruit of the Spirit that I so long to grow. Only then do I experience peace.

Romans 8 explains it so clearly:
"For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

When I work from my flesh, I cannot please God. Me, the people-pleaser, wanting to please everyone else but the God in whose image people are even created. How easy it is for me to forget that without faith it is impossible to please God. Yet, how do I even stop living from the flesh and instead live by faith? Thankfully Romans goes onto say...

"You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness..."

and then one of the most incredible power-packed verses of truth--

"...If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you."

Here I find the ultimate promise of new life, new peace, new hope. The resurrection of Christ. The power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in me through the Spirit. Unbelievable! Here is power for life and peace. For me. For today.