Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I Will...

And going on a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying "My Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26:39
 
The words leapt off the page.

They struck at the heart of recent challenges with which I struggled. The answer really was that simple. If only it was that easy.

We know a thing is right, but we try to find excuses for not doing it at once. To climb to the height God shows can never be done presently, it must be done now. The sacrifice is gone through in will before it is performed actually. ~Oswald Chambers

To be honest, lately I’m feeling my age. I’ll be moving more deeply into the last half of my decade in a couple of weeks. I’m coming home from my classroom more fatigued than any year before. The issues in my back and neck discovered this summer are flaring again. And it’s my own fault.

I’ve found that when I exercise regularly and keep the supporting muscles strengthened, I don’t have any pain. But when I get busy, when I skip a workout – or two, or three… - the muscles tighten, nerves complain and it takes weeks to reconquer the pain. I know what I need to do. But I don’t want to do it. And by the time the pain flares, it hurts to do it which does not make me any more eager to work out.

So right into this situation Chamber’s words speak.
The sacrifice is gone through in will before it is performed actually.

We see this in scripture:

Abraham’s simplicity in his obedience and calmness to sacrifice Isaac.

Jesus’s prayers of surrender in the Garden that led to calm determination on the road to Calgary.

I see it in my own life. God called me to a particular fast in worship this year. The whole year. And it’s been easy.

Why?
Because it was already decided in my heart.

The discipline of the athlete, the faithful care of a parent…perseverance in the most difficult challenges because it’s already settled in the heart.

I pray that I can get my selfishness out of the way and accept this reality of my age and body. I have to work out. I have to want it. I have to will it. I have to make the commitment within before it happen.

I will must replace I should…
I will must replace I need to…
It must even replace I want to….   because I won’t always want to!
 

What discipline are you facing? What sacrifice are you struggling to walk out? Remember Chamber’s words: The sacrifice is gone through in will before it is performed actually.

 

Let’s find our own gardens and do the hard work ‘til we can say, I will.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Patterns

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I love patterns!

I love discovering a pattern that helps me understand the math I’m teaching my kids. Anytime I find a pattern it makes it easier for me to understand things.

Recently God helped me understand a pattern about faith. It really clarified so much about faith and trust!

It started with Oswald Chamber’s explanation how what Jesus shared was never common sense but “revelation sense.” He went on to say that “Faith must be tried before the reality of faith is actual.” [Oct. 30th My Utmost for His Highest]

What I came to understand was this cycle or pattern that Chambers identifies.

1) God reveals a truth about Himself.
2) I choose to believe and trust that revelation.
3) God brings me into circumstances where that truth is tested-I’m given the opportunity to act on my belief-and my faith becomes reality as God proves his revelation true.

Revelation, Belief, Testing, Proof.

This is what it means in scripture when it says Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The Word reveals God’s truth. We believe it. We maintain belief on it in the test and see it come to pass.

That believing before we see it is explained in Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

The other weekend I experienced this cycle and totally saw it come to pass.

In preparation for a long weekend home, I was frazzled and harried from the huge end of quarter load of paper work, report cards, etc. – all which must be done before I left as there would be no time to work on anything before the deadline which coincided with my return.  Plus, I returned just in time for Andrew’s anniversary, which rose heavy before me this year. Squeezed in the middle was a trip home to be with family – precious but always hard, the reminders stark of the changes in my life and family compared to those of my siblings. So I faced the weekend stressed, weary, and emotionally drained. How would I get through?

But as I prayed that week before, asking God to help prepare my heart and meet me in my weakness, He reminded me of Isaiah 58:11

The Lord will guide you continually,
    giving you water when you are dry
    and restoring your strength.

He challenged me – Will you believe it? And Oswald Chamber’s comments came to mind.

God had promised me strength and refreshment. Would I believe what He said was true? Would I trust Him? Would I stop worrying and walk in confidence that He would give me all I needed and more to get through the 7 hour solo drives, the long weekend and whatever memories flared, and the emotional strength for Andrew’s anniversary?

I had to make a choice.
I chose to trust.

And as I walked out the weekend, the drives, the family visits, the return home, Andrew’s anniversary, all of it… God’s promise proved true.

Revelation, Belief, Testing and Proof.

 

So many people complain about the “tests and trials” of life. But that’s where we experience God. That’s where our faith moves from knowledge to assurance. That’s where we experience the confirmation of His promises. Why would you want to miss out on that?

So often we look at things from the wrong perspective, just like I did going into my weekend. But when I let go of my fears and held on to God’s Word, truth became known and made real.

 

Father God, help me to make your Word my foundation and not my fears. I want to receive your revelations with belief, knowing regardless of what I see and feel, they will prove true over time and eternity. Remind me when I’m at the crossroads between doubt and belief to cling to the revelation regardless of the trial. For it’s in the test that your promises will be experienced. May I not fear the tests but be thankful for the opportunity to experience you in deeper and more meaningful ways. Thank you for your patterns, for your constancy, for always being true to your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. Ps. 73:8
 
 
I don’t even remember where I was headed. I don’t even think I was late. But when that car merged on right in front of me, at what felt like a snail’s pace, I braked and grumbled. I think, “Idiot!” came out of my mouth.

And then the Spirit whispered, Why do you think you are so important?

What? I have to be honest. It really made me stop and pause.

Why do you think you are so important? Why are you more important than that person? What right do you have to call him an idiot?

Man! Talk about a reality check.

Shamefully, I couldn’t answer.

Why did I think I was more important?
Did he really do anything wrong or just inconvenience me?
Am I so proud that I’m above everyone else?
My time more valuable than anyone else’s?
My wants and desires, even my needs, more critical than others?
 

That day started a pattern. One that keeps repeating in my heart and now causes me to see it everywhere else too.

How much of our anger, our inconveniences, our sarcasm and complaints are simply reflections of our pride?


The other week I attended a workshop after school. It was advertised to save me time, to help over the next quarter. But that proved to be far from the case. I discovered later that the presenters had failed to follow protocol, but that really didn’t justify how irate I felt that evening. Talk about ranting and raving...hours later! To be honest it bordered on hatred! How dare they waste my time?!

Did I really just say that? Ouch! Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself in truth.
 

Again, the Spirit’s question whispers through my mind.
Why do we think we are so important, so much better than others?

I’ve always admitted to battling pride. Being a people pleaser, I have often focused way too much on my performance in efforts to gain others approval to create my sense of security. What a shaky foundation!

But I never realized how deeply pride has rooted into my heart. What right do I have to complain against another? Just because someone inconveniences me in some way, am I of more value than they are? Do I have any idea of the story of their life? I, if anyone, should understand that! I’ve experienced the sting of others not understanding the complications in our lives with the boys being ill, with the boys being gone. How could I be so self-minded, so proud and self-inflated, to inflict my wrath on others?

I leave you with the Spirit’s question this week.
Ask Him to show you if you too struggle with pride.

Why do you think you are so important?

You might be surprised at where it manifests.

 

Father God, forgive my arrogance. Forgive me for making myself more than I should, more than others. Help me to recognize the places pride has infiltrated my life. Help me to recognize the pride behind actions, the pride behind words, the pride behind thoughts. Do a deep work and root it out of my life. I want nothing between me and You. Help me to see myself and others the way you do. Help me to serve and put others before myself. Extinguish pride from my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Long time memories

I wrote this 13 years ago today, a year after losing Andrew.

So much still holds true.
But truer still, my hope stands strong... God's love outlasts all grief.
No matter how it flares.


November 5
Everyone thinks we all are so strong.
Everyone thinks we all have moved on.
But deep down inside
It all is still there
The hurt, the pain, the sense of loss
The questions unanswered
The hugs not given
The moments missed & memories not made

Nobody says your name
No one addresses our pain
It's not their intent I know
Words go unsaid
Because words can't be found
But it isn't so much the words
As just having someone remember,
To agree that this way stinks,
To share the tears and just understand.

So I run to God.
I cry my tears and shout my questions
I vent my hurt and lament my loss
And I know He doesn't turn away
He doesn't get mad
There is no rebuke or condemnation
Only agreement... understanding... and tears of His own.
 
I will never understand
Why this way was the sovereign plan
It's a question on which I must not dwell
All I can do is give Him myself
My full self
-the questions
-the hurt
-the pain of missing you
-the longing to hold you, to see you, to touch you
-the longing for the sound of your voice and the light of your smile
 
Another day I can be strong
Another day I can have joy
Another day I will walk in peace
 
Today,
I just hurt
I am not whole
I miss my son.

Andrew Merrill Lubelczyk,
Aug. 23, 1995- Nov. 5, 2000

Friday, October 31, 2014

When Worship is Hard

Earlier this week we lifted our voices in praise, responding to the beauty of creation that surrounds us in this fall transition to winter. But you might be in a place that makes that hard. You might be struggling with pain, with sorrow, with difficulty, with fear- all factors that make it harder to worship.

But my friend, know – that is exactly the BEST time to worship!

You don’t have to worship for the circumstances, but you can worship because of them.

You can worship because they are not the final say over your life.
You can worship because they are opportunities for you to experience God.
You can worship because they are not bigger than the God you serve.

Need some help to get your started? Look at the actions of God in Psalm 147.

...rebuilding

…bringing the exiles back

…heals the brokenhearted

…bandages their wounds

...counts the stars

…calls [the stars] by name

…supports the humble

…covers the heavens

…provides rain

…makes the grasses grow

…gives food

…feeds

...strengthened the bars of your gates

…sends peace

…satisfies your hunger

You have a God of action, my friend. Press hard into Him this day. Rejoice that you are not alone. Rejoice in the goodness of your God.

He will get you through.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Worship


Let them all praise the name of the Lord. For his name is very great… Psalm 148:13

It’s peak of fall color here in Maryland. As I revel in the beauty of the colors during the day, the clearness of the sky and crystal sparkle of the stars at night, I can’t help but raise my voice in praise, joining all of creation in worship of the One who sustains it all, who created it all from nothing. Will you join your voice to mine?

 


Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
    Praise him from the skies!

Praise him, all his angels!
    Praise him, all the armies of heaven!

Praise him, sun and moon!
    Praise him, all you twinkling stars!

Praise him, skies above!
    Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!

Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
    for he issued his command, and they came into being.

He set them in place forever and ever.
    His decree will never be revoked.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you creatures of the ocean depths,

fire and hail, snow and clouds,

    wind and weather that obey him,

mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars,

wild animals and all livestock,
    small scurrying animals and birds,

kings of the earth and all people,
    rulers and judges of the earth,

young men and young women,
    old men and children.

Let them all praise the name of the Lord.
    For his name is very great;

    his glory towers over the earth and heaven!

He has made his people strong,
    honoring his faithful ones—

    the people of Israel who are close to him.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 148


 
 

Friday, October 24, 2014

On Offering of Miscellaneous Thoughts

This week has been a bit intense. Several meetings. Much mental processing at the job. Many highs. Some lows. It’s felt a bit of a jumble.

And so here it’s already Friday and no succinct, coherent thought has transpired to share with you today. So I thought I’d share in the same pattern as my week – a jumbled collection of miscellaneous thoughts from my quiet times.

These are the quotes and comments that caught my heart’s attention and challenged me to keep perspective and priority this week. I offer them to you in hopes you’ll find challenge and encouragement as well.

My Utmost for His Highest ~ Oswald Chambers

 
“Our Lord has told us how love to Him is to manifest itself. ‘Lovest thou Me.’ ‘Feed My sheep’ – identify yourself with My interests in other people, not, identify Me with your interests in other people.”

 

“You have no idea of where God is going to engineer your circumstances, no knowledge of what strain is going to be put on you either at home or abroad, and if you waste your time in over-active energies instead of getting into soak on the great fundamental truths of God’s Redemption, you will snap with the strain comes.”

 

“It is not a question of whether God is willing to sanctify me; is it my will? Am I willing to let God do in me all that has been made possible by the Atonement? Am I willing to let Jesus be made sanctification to me…Beware of saying – Oh, I am longing to be sanctified….stop longing and make it a matter of transaction!”

 

“We do not need the grace of God to stand crises, human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.”

 

“How are we going to get the life that has no lust, no self-interest, no sensitiveness to pokes, the love that is not provoked, that thinketh no evil, that is always kind? The only way is by allowing not a bit of the old life to be left.”



“There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.”