Monday, August 12, 2013

Everybody Worships

"Everybody worships," said David Foster Wallace in 2005. "The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing ... is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough ... Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths ... Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you in your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is ... they're unconscious". -David Foster Wallace. "Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address." May 21, 2005.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hard Hearted Prayerlessness

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.-James 5:13-15
Reflection:It happens so easily. One day I think I have too much on my plate to spend time with God. The next day I think I’d rather sleep in than get out of bed…but I will pray later…and then I don’t.  Before you know it, days have gone by and I am running on spiritual fumes to keep my job, my relationships and my mood stabilized. I should never be surprised when I come crashing down and realize the neglect of my prayer life has sunk me. And yet I find myself wondering where I went wrong time and time again.
These verses in the book of James show us that prayer is not about petitioning for one aspect of our lives whether it be suffering or celebration. Prayer is about a relationship. Whatever is happening, we should be praying.  We should be as dependent on that relationship as we are for air.  So why aren’t we?
In The Prayer Life, Andrew Murray tells the story of a minister speaking to a woman who is struggling to pray. The minister tells her,” As you go to your inner chamber, however cold and dark your heart may be, do not try in your own might to force yourself into the right attitude. Bow before him, and tell him that he sees in what a sad state you are that your only hope is in him. Trust him with a childlike trust to have mercy upon you, and wait upon him. In such a trust you are in a right relationship to him. You have nothing; he has everything.”
All of our striving and work at having a good prayer life will fail.  Loving Christ is the only way to have the fellowship with God we need.  n a romantic relationship, we often yearn to spend time with our partners. We love our children or family members and long to be with them. We are sad when a friend moves away because we can no longer spend time with them. Love of Christ must drive us to invest in a prayer relationship.  Only when we realize how truly helpless we are without him are our relationships with God nourished.
Prayer:God, we have an aversion to your holiness that keeps us from spending time with you.  We take for granted the privilege that prayer is and choose our own endeavors not understanding that prayer is the lifeblood of our soul.  Without it, we are living in the flesh in our lives.  Help us to fall more in love with Jesus so we are driven by love for him to our knees.

(Originally published by me on The Redemptive Pursuit website)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

He is Jealous For Me

And He is jealous from me, loves like a hurricane, I am a treeBending beneath the weight of His wind and mercyWhen all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictionsEclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You areAnd how great Your affections are for meOh, how He loves, yeah, He loves usOh, how He loves us, oh, how He loves usOh, how He loves
And we are His portion and He is our prizeDrawn to redemption by the grace in His eyesIf His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kissAnd my heart turns violently inside of my chestI don't have time to maintain these regretsWhen I think about the way
Oh, how He loves us, ohOh, how He loves us, how He loves allHow He loves
-How He Loves Us Lyrics, David Crowder Band

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What Resurrection Means

"But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior, from there, The Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious." -Philippians 3:20-21

I remember the first time I heard someone speak on the reality that the people of God would be resurrected and have physical bodies in the New Heavens and the New Earth.  I was shocked.  For years I had believed that when I died, my spirit would go to heaven and that was it.  I had no understanding of the scriptures that spoke of our final glorification in Christ.  That Christ would return and we would be raised from our graves and be physical beings.  I had apparently missed out on this crucial truth which is a key to the Easter celebration.  Christ rose from the dead and had a glorious, physical body.  
At the time, I was not only shocked but also dismayed by this information.  As a young woman in the entertainment industry, I had battled self hatred of my body for years.  My body never felt good enough and I wanted to be free of it.  Having a physical body seemed less glorious to me and more an annoyance.
Recently however, the beauty of a physical presence in the afterlife became real to me. I watched my father-in-law battle Lou Gehrig's Disease.  It is a disease where all of the muscles slowly deteriorate and it has no cure.  My father-in-law was one of the most Christ-like and loving people I had ever encountered and for him to lose control of his limbs, speech and breathing was devastating for all who loved him.  When he died, I began to understand why the resurrection provided such hope and truth.  To know that my father-in-law would have a body that was "glorious" beyond anything he had in this life was a remarkable assurance.  He would not only physically live again but would embrace again, speak again, eat and drink again, run again, laugh again.  And in a body that was like the one Christ has which had no deficiency.  It would be a glorious body.
What a truth for us to realize!  Disease, aging, and death would not prevent us from having a physical reality in the future that was glorious.  That is was the resurrection is truly about. "O death where is thy victory? O death where is thy sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55)
John Murray, in his book Redemption Accomplished and Applied, says "The biblical doctrine of 'immortality', if we may use that term, is the doctrine of glorification.  And glorification is resurrection.  Without resurrection of the body from the grave and the restoration of human nature to its completeness after the pattern of Christ's resurrection on the third day and according to the likeness of the glorified human nature in which he will appear on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory there is no glorification."
When we celebrate Easter in two weeks, we celebrate Christ having died for our sins.  But that is not all. We celebrate the end of all death that we know will come because he rose from the dead in human form on the third day.  We will not exist only in a spiritual form but body and spirit will be a glorious reality. And so it shall be for all of the people of God.  That is worthy of great celebration.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Law and Grace

"For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." -Romans 6:14

When I moved from Kentucky to New York City to go to college, it became clear to me that I was a legalistic Christian.  What I mean by that is that I thought you earned your salvation by following the rules.  This kind of attitude cheapens the sacrifice that Christ has made for me.  It makes me the author of my own salvation and I perform good works so I can feel I am superior to others.  When I live a life defined by grace, I understand that I am a sinner, Christ has saved me through his sacrificial blood and the gratitude of that makes me gracious to those around me.

I recently saw the movie version of "Les Miserables" and it is a fantastic example of what your life looks like when you are justified by the law versus justified by grace.  In case you are unfamiliar with the story, Jean Valjean is a man who lives his life committing mericiful and sacrificial acts to those around him because he was so moved by an act of sacrifice that was shown to him in the name of God.  Javert is a prison warden who spends years trying to hunt down Valjean because he stole some bread to feed his hungry family.  He even prays to God for help to put him behind bars saying, "so it is written on the doorway to paradise that those who falter and those who fall must pay the price."
Valjean and Javert both consider themselves man of God.  They both pray.  They both believe in God.  But one had been so radically transformed by the love of God that he showed mercy and love to others, including his enemies.  The other thought faltering and failing condemned you to hell apart from God and took it upon himself to punish those who had not followed "God's way."
We all have our moments of legalism, of unforgiveness and of self-righteousness.  It is in these moments that we believe we can earn our own salvation and we cheapen the sacrifice that was made for us.  By believing people can earn their salvation through their works, we become people who are deeply ungrateful for the nails that bore our sin on the cross of Christ. 
Our Father God, we often think that our own performance achieves us favor in your eyes.  For this, we ask for your forgiveness.  Not understanding our own sinfulness and not understanding the sacrifice of Christ makes us callous to the mercy you have shown us and to those we encounter around us. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Taking the City

My devotional written today for The Redemptive Pursuit.  If you want to receive these weekly devotionals for women you can sign up here:

"Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city."  -Proverbs 16:32

The TSA security line at the airport had a estimated wait time of 43 minutes.  My flight was departing in 45.  One lane was open to check passengers and baggage and I was becoming angrier with each passing moment.  I did not just complain to those around me.  I began lashing out.  At the TSA agents, the man who insisted he take another look at my bag, and when I got the gate I expressed my frustration to the ticket agent who had nothing to do with the security line.  She very politely let me know my complaints were not in her control.  Then I boarded the plane and expressed my frustration loudly and obnoxiously for all the passengers on the small plane to hear.

My temper may not have taken a city, but it certainly made everyone who interacted with me miserable for the time they were around me.  I was a warrior for my own cause.  And I did not care who it inconvenienced.

God cares more about my character than he does whether I am in the right or wrong in a given situation.  He is not impressed by how I let everyone know how inefficient their system was.  He was saddened that I couldn't control my temper.

Christ has nothing but patience for me.  Not just a patience that can wait through a long line but a patience that costs something.  He is gracious with me through my sinfulness.  Knowing he died for my sins should move me to love others out of an overflow of the love he has shown me.  And yet I am a slow learner.  But Christ did not treat those he disagreed with or those who wronged him with disdain or pride.  He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," and then he died to cover their offenses.

Perhaps next time I try to be a warrior for my own cause, I will remember that Christ in his humility was a warrior in his love for others.

God, forgive us for our self-centered tempers.  You have shown us that loving others should come before loving ourselves and we fail.  Thank you for caring for us so much that you cover our shortcomings and move our hearts to be fixated on you and not our own ambitions.