Friday, August 28, 2009

The Circle of Life

Jacob left yesterday for Nashville, Tennessee, to live the next chapter in this adventure called life. He rented a U-Haul and loaded up all his earthly possessions, 85% of which were books. Another 12% was clothes and the last 3% was a blender, a George Foreman grill, a laundry basket and a few sundry items for establishing a household. He will certainly need more.
He will be there for two years working with RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) as, essentially, a missionary to a college campus. The fact that he is going to Belmont, which is a Christian university, should scream something about the state of Christ- ianity in America, but I will save that for another post.
There is a distinct melancholy that is drifting around my heart and threatening to settle there. But I won't let it. It has been so won- derful having him use our home as his "base" for the last 15 months since graduating from OU. From here he traveled the world and went on incredible adventures in between waiting tables at a local upscale restaurant.
Which is one of the things that makes this so hard. I got used to having him around again! And now I am going to have to get used to him being gone. And not just to Norman this time, but to Nashville, which the last time I checked my atlas, is not exactly next door. He won't be popping in for Sunday dinner!
I must say, I am incredibly thankful to the Lord for how short the season was where Jacob was caught up in severe legalism and wouldn't speak to me. It nearly broke my heart.
But I have always said God redeems everything, and He redeemed that very difficult six months by allowing him to live here for the past 15 while he got ready for the internship.
We have had so many wonderful conversations and arguments (in the truest sense of the word, not the angry sense) about the theology and doctrines of Scripture. It fed something in me for which I am deeply thirsty and I will miss that most of all.
We have encouraged one another as we were both needing God to provide financially for our needs. His need was for the internship and mine is to increase the book order. Seeing him receive his provision has bolstered me to stand in faith for mine.
So I am sad. But only for myself. Not for him. It is as it should be. This, after all, was the goal all along! To raise productive members of society and children who love and serve the Lord. By some mysterious miracle of God's grace, we have done that. I always said my job as a mother was to work myself out of a job. Mission accomplished.
After all, if he were 35 years old, still living at home, still waiting tables, and had three children by three different women, with me doing his laundry and paying for car repairs and who knows what else this would be an entirely different blog entry! (My dad used to say, "You can come back, but you can't breed and come back.")
So we are finished for the most part with the task God gave us. Still, make no mistake that that doesn't mean the satisfaction isn't tinged with some sadness.
It won't last long. He will call. We will e-mail. I'll write. He will come home to visit even though he will likely never live under our roof again. He will meet a woman and marry and add another to the puzzle pieces of our family, and even more pieces when he has children.
I'll be busy and distracted with the books.
So mostly I am thrilled for the call of God on his life, for his obedience to it and excitement in it. I am curious how this chapter is going to influence the next one and so on.
He will be home this Thanksgiving for his cousin's wedding and again for Christmas, I hope. We have Jay's flight benefits so I can see him when our schedules allow. I know all of that. It's not goodbye for the rest of this life like it was with Jordan.
But still. It's going to be different from now on. And the way life usually works is once I get used to that change, it will be different again!
Thankfully these melancholy spells don't last long. And always, God is good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Random Thoughts on Murder and Forgivness

I get on these obsessive/compulsive jags where I read a certain author or genre until I have exhausted the supply. Rick Riley, the writer and columnist for Sports Illustrated and Mike Royko, who wrote for the Chicago Tribune, were particular favorites. Then there was the summer I worked my way through every word Lewis Grizzard ever wrote, laughing 'till my sides split. I was actually angry when he smoked and drank himself to death and deprived the world of his incredible, insightful and hilarious talent. I have a penchant for columnists because they always exhibit such a delicious way with words.
At one point I was heavily into true crime. Ann Rule was my primary author of choice, though there were others. This particular jag was deeply distressful to my husband. He was sure I was trying to plan the perfect murder. His.
But the truth is, I have always been fascinated by human nature, the mind, psychology and what causes things to go wrong in the heart and psyche of some people. It is assumed the deviant, murderous, sociopathic or pathalogical minds are frightening abberations of "normal" and I have always viewed them with a terrified fascination. I have often wondered if they aren't really just the extreme consequences of living in a viloently fallen and sinful world, and if each of us, given the wrong circumstances or upbringing woudn't be capable and vulnerable of becoming what is the worst of mankind.
My interest within the interest centered on serial killers. I find them morbidly and repulsively fascinating. I love the three legs of a crime story. First, the psychological make-up and motives of the killer; secondly, the painstaking work of detectives whose passion for justice is almost always equal to their suspect's passion for murder; thirdly, the preparation of the trial lawers whose job it is to see these people brought to justice and prevent added atrocities.
In that place where the nonsense of your dreams gradually give way to the first conscious thoughts of the day I often have my most enlightening moments. I always wish I could stay there longer, but those little vacations last mere moments.
One morning not long ago I had a powerful awarness of the deep depravity and consequences of sin we can never completley divorce ourselves from. I understood on a deeper level than I ever have just how far we have fallen from God's original idea of who we should be and of how truly monsterous the crowning glory of His creation can become.
There are people who beat, rape and kill their own children. Children who murder their partent. A smorgasboard of exual deviants. On a slightly less extreme but just as spiritually lethal level there are people who lie, cheat, steal, have abortions, commit adultry, are addicted to drugs and alcohol, have anger issues or are bitter and unforgiving.
How tragically far we have fallen from the plans of the God who longs to walk with us in the garden in the cool of the day; who made the vastness of creation for our pleasure; whose vast imagination and creativity are beyond comprehension.
I started thinking about all the kooks out there and the hundreds of miles I hitchhiked as a teenager. It was the only way for me to get from one place to another and at one point, from McCloud, Oklahoma, to Monore, Louisanna, where I was picked up by a country preacher driving a brown Mavrick who shared the Gospel with me and changed my life forever.
I will never know how many times God protected me from harm. I could easily have been beaten, raped or murdered. It happens to people all the time and all the more so to runaway teenagers who the depraved prey on.
I began to worship God in that semi-conscious state and thank Him profusely for His care and proteciton when I was oblivious. It occured to me that not only did He spare my life as a teenager, He spares it every day. After all, how many people die in car accidents every day? Or lose their minds to Alzheimer's or their bodies to debilitating diseases?
I stand guilty before God of many grevious sins. I live in a fallen world. I have a sin nature. But mostly, I have consciously and deliberately made wrong choices and shot an arrow into the great heart of a righteous and holy God. Some of them have had physical, emotional or psychological consequences. All of them have had spiritual consequences.
But I serve a God whose love for me is greater than the vastness of space. The plans, promises and blessings He has planned for me outnumber the stars.
He longs to fill my mind with the same creativity He expressed at creation. And the same power that brought into being everything seen and unseen and that "holds all things together by the word of His power," sets me free.
I understood that in a way I never had before and I wept myself into wakefulness.
God's word is true. It cannot fail. "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed." God wants to-longs to- set me free from the sins that so easily beset me. He wants to take the life He has preserved and the gifts He has given me and use them to be a beakon of the light of glory in the darkness that envelopes the world.
I understood Paul's cry, "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain." I want my life to be lived for God's purposes and pleasure, one of which is to be my best friend. I want to anticipate heaven, not as a windowledge I hope to hang onto my by fingernails, but as my true home where I will one day be in the presence of the God who dwells there and where I will live with Him in glory unimaginable. Where everything He has trained me for here will have purpose there.
I understood in a more profound manner that when the light of Christ enters a person they are truly catapulted into another kingdom. A kingdom of life, love, hope, peace and perfect communion with the living God.
We see through a glass darkly, but one day we will see face-to-face.
My heart was overwhelmed with thanksgiving and gratitude to God for who He is, what He has done, what He longs to do and for His mercies, grace and forgiveness which are new every morning and extended to me as surely as Xerxes extended the scepter to Esther.
The same power that caused Jesus to burst forth from the grave and overcome death and Hades is at work in me and for me and through me and is setting me free! My only job is to respond to all He has already done for me. To tap into it and allow Him to completely rule and reign in every thought, action and detail of my life.
The best part is that I don't have to beg and plead and cry and "try." I just need to ask and God, who is able to do "above and beyond all I could ask or think" and He will show up and do what only He is capable of doing. Which is everything!

Westminster Confession of Faith

The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave, for a season, His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and decietfulness of their own hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lessons From Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician and a genius who made tremendous contributions in the area of mathematics.
He had a dramatic encounter with the Lord at the age of 31 which he expressed on a piece of parchment and sewed into his coat where it was found eight years later when he died as a young man. It read:
"Year of grace 1654, Monday, 23 November, feast of St. Clement. From about half past ten at night to just about half an hour after midnight, fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude. Heartfelt joy. Peace. God of Jesus Christ, God of Jesus Christ, my God and your God. Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy! Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, may I never be separated from him."
Later in one of his writings, he made this observation: "All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war and others avoiding it is the same desire in both. This is the motive of every action of every man. Even of those who hang themselves."
Another time he wrote: "If God does not exist, one will lose nothing by believing in Him, while if He does exist, one will lose everything by not believing."
I never really liked math. I prefer words. But I think I would have liked Blaise Pascal.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Encouragement in Trials

I am in a prayer group with three other women. We try to get together at least once a week, though that doesn't always work out. When it doesn't we pray over the phone.
Over the years, as each of us have faced extremely difficult circumstances and we have prayed steadfastly and been each others Aaron and Hur, the Lord has knit our souls togther.
However, it is by the "washing of the water of the Word" that our spirits are nourished--even more so than through prayer--because this is what God Himself declared would nourish us.
Prayer is one of the most powerful forces in the universe and corporate prayer is that power multiplied. But it is the Word of God that changes, teaches and instructs us.
And so for anyone who is facing any kind of difficulty I would encourage you to not only lift your concerns before the Lord in prayer, but to cling to His Word and let it revive you.
Here are four of my favorite, life-giving Scriptures when facing the difficulties and trials of life:

"Consider it all joy, my brethern, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things wich are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Chirst, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him." Romans 8: 15-17

"Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain wateing the earth." Hosea 6:1-3

As faithful servants of God Most High, the King and Creator of all the universe, when we encounter the difficulties and trials of life, let us soak in His Word, bask in His goodness, trust in His gentle- ness, believe in His character, and cling to His promises like a drowning man clinging to a life perserver in the tossing sea.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Daily Prayer

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Draw me deep into Yourself, O Lord, and purify me. Lead me in the everlasting way. Abba, I belong to You. Keep my will bent toward Your will, my heart tender toward truth, my mind renewed by Your word, my life committed to do your will. Amen."

Monday, August 10, 2009

It Isn't Easy Being Green

Green. It's the new black. Everyone is wearing it. On their sleeves, that is. "Sustainability" has catapulted from a good idea and a grass roots movement into a revolution and a national obsession. Frantic cries of "Global warming!" and "Carbon footprint" are echoing across the country with all the intensity of Paul Revere shouting that the British were coming.
Perhaps the ecologic danger is no less real, but it turns out, it depends on whom you talk to. We can't seem to get a consensus on the raging debate over whether the polar ice caps are in fact melting. Not that I've been trying to pin down those in the know. Some say yes, some say no. But quite frankly I have been too distracted with trying to raise my children to be responsible and productive members of society on every level to worry too much about it. But now that the little darlings have learned to balance their checkbooks, save their tax receipts, write a sincere thank you note, respond to an rsvp, clip coupons, read a recipe, grocery shop, do their own laundry, be courteous to insipid government workers, drive a stick shift, and apply for college scholarships I will have more time to interview polar bears.
However, the fever-pitched battle cry for "sustainability" was not waiting patiently for my schedule to lighten up. It is relentless and pervasive and bombarding us from the most unlikely places. Not only is it impossible to pick up a single magazine without it touting the "green" anthem, but just the other day I was in one of those huge box stores because there is no place else to shop anymore (a diatribe for another day) when I came across these words on the air dryer in the ladies room: "24 trees will be saved during the life of this hand dryer."
I left the ladies room but I couldn't shake the thought. It haunted me as I piled paper towels, paper plates, paper napkins and toilet paper into my shopping cart. 24 trees. How did they know that? It sounded so very convincing. After all, it didn't say "approximately 24 trees." No. It was exactly 24 trees. So then I couldn't help but wonder what kind of trees? California Redwoods or volunteer saplings that spring up between mowings? Actually, as it turns out, I have a couple of scrub oaks in my yard I'd be happy to see turned into something useful...
And then I couldn't help but wonder what would become of the hand dryer when it's life was over. Would it go directly into a landfill? Or maybe recycled into braces to improve adolescent smiles? And then what would become of the braces once they had done their job? I broke into a cold sweat as I considered all the horrible implications and the lack of satisfying answers. I can't stay on this track...I need my sleep.
So is it just me? Or are we all feeling subtly shamed into obsessing over the irreversible damage we are doing to the ecosystem if we choose to irresponsibly dry our hands on paper towels?
We are told to buy "water sense" toilets, "formaldehyde free" insulation, compact florescent light bulbs, and on and on it goes. Suddenly SUVs are as vilifying as second-hand smoke. And though I don't smoke and drive an economical car, I just can't take one more slice from the guilt pie. Like kudzu there is simply too much of it around and no way to get rid of it.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for being responsible. I don't waste food. I open the dish washer before it hits the dry cycle. I never leave the lights on when I'm not in the room. I diligently recycle. But I tend to choke on anything that is rammed down my throat.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there is one thing the invisible and elusive "they" aren't telling us about being green. So allow me to let you in on a little secret: It's hard work! It's tough enough to get the small number of people in my household to sort their whites and darks, rinse dishes and load the dishwasher or put their clothes on hangers and their trash in strategically located cans. But now I am supposed to gather that trash and wash it, rinse it, sort it, drive it to the recycle center or pay to have it picked up at the curb and try to convince the rest of the world to do the same. It's like having a part-time job as a volunteer.
And all this so my conscience won't come unhinged, my children's children will rise up and call me blessed, and will be able to eat mercury free salmon and discuss the bright future of the spotted owl and bask in their environmental stewardship.
Fine. But let's just be completely honest about all the extra time, money and effort this supposedly tranquil color is demanding of us, shall we? Now instead of waste, excess, irresponsibility and the American way, we are constantly bombarded by our obligation to future generations. Who built this bandwagon, anyway? My best guess it that it's probably not the profit driven folks at Huggies or Acquifina.
And just in case you are ready to wad up your "It's Easy Being Green" non-dyed, cotton fiber, reusable grocery store tote and throw it at me, let me assure you I have been environmentally conscious since before cool people used "groovy" in everyday conversation.
Our household was its own version of Mother Earth News. We gleefully collected tons of newspapers from the neighbors for my older brother's yearly Boy Scout paper drive. Around the same time my mother read about burning tightly rolled newspaper logs in the fireplace. We didn't do this out of economic necessity, so I can only assume we were ahead of our time. They didn't burn like real logs but we felt pretty smug fanning the smoldering ashes while jealoulsy smelling the chopped wood logs (gasp!) our more boorish and less conscientious neighbors burned in their fire- places.
One summer my eccentric aunt saved all our soda pop cans and patiently cut, sculpted, painted and arranged them into giant bouquets of flowers using heavy cotton gloves, metal shears and oil paints. My mother still has one on her formal dining room table that looks as good as the day my aunt ceremoniously dropped it there in a drunken stupor, so I can only imagine all those cans would still be intact if they were in a landfill rather than on my mother's table.
When I had children of my own I trained them to save and sort aluminum cans, plastic milk jugs, glass (by color) and the requisite newspapers. We diligently sent our pop tops to the Ronald Mc Donald House in St. Louis to help offset the cost of kidney dialysis. I knew I had crossed into some sort of invisible obsessive/com- pulsive behavior when I began raiding the trash cans at my children's sporting events and grabbing cans from people in the stands before they were finished with them. But all I could think about were all those poor kids whose kidneys didn't work.
Eventually I became mentally and emotionally unhinged and on the verge of needing in-patient therapy. Certainly my children were on the verge of needing it.
Fortunately those days are behind me. The pendulum has finally swung from either side back to the middle where it has rested. I can't say the same for the rest of the country. Guilt and obsession have been replaced with hard won sanity and for me, that means balance and harmony. I am still doing my part to keep this planet spinning and will continue quietly as a responsible global citizen.
But be forewarned. Even if the entire world is on the verge of ecologic collapse, I refuse to give up my Charmin habit.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Life Lessons

In my 51 years on this planet I have learned a few things which I'd like to share with you:
  • The secret to a long marriage is...staying married.
  • Hand in hand with that truth is, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know."
  • For those over 40 who grew up hearing, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." The truth is, love means always saying you are sorry when it needs to be said.
  • Life is not "fair." It never will be. Whatever your lot, cultivate it.
  • Cliches are cliches for a reason.
  • Bitterness and resentment are like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.
  • If it ain't workin' for ya, don't keep doing it.
  • There are perfect parents in this world. I used to be one. Then I had children of my own.
  • The world doesn't need a definition of Christianity as much as it needs a demonstration.
  • Our words may hide our thoughts, but our actions reveal them.
  • The reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail instead of his tongue.
  • The most terrible of lies is not that which is uttered, but that which is lived.
  • The secret of being a saint, is being a saint in secret.
  • You are always in the wrong key when you start singing your own praises.
  • There is no greater power in the universe than prayer.
  • We must learn to set our course by the light of truth, not by the light of every passing ship.
  • Everything that has been forwarded to you via e-mail I have already read.
  • Martin Luther said, "I have held many things in my hands and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still posses."
  • There is no right way to do a wrong thing.
  • Deal with faults in others as gently as you deal with them in yourself.
  • Don't work so hard to make a good husband that you never quite manage to make a good wife.
  • A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.
  • If it were easy, anybody could do it.
  • It is impossible to go forward in the strength of the Lord until we have first learned the depth of our own helpless- ness. In order to mold us, He often has to melt us.
  • Trouble is like an ugly dog. It looks worse coming than going.
  • Anatole France said, "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but dream; not only plan, but also believe."
  • Anytime you use the expression, "Like a rat on a Cheeto," you are bound to get a laugh.
  • If we fear God there is nothing else to fear.
  • These are the good ol' days!
  • Thomas Jefferson knew of that which he spoke when he said, "Who then can so softly bind the wounds of another as he who has felt the same wounds himself."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lessons From the Life of George Mueller

As I drove to Oklahoma City yesterday I listened to John Piper's sermon on the life of George Mueller that he preached once at his yearly pastor's conference. It was so good I listened to it again on the return trip.
Piper is known for reading the biographies of great men of God and speaking about their lives in a way that impacts our own.
What follows are the highlights from that sermon that particularly struck me. Muellers comments are in quotes, the rest is taken directly from the sermon notes.

Discovery of the all-encompassing sovereignty of God became the foundation of Mueller's confidence in God to answer his prayers for money. He gave up his regular salary. He refused to ask people directly for money. He simply prayed and published his reports about the goodness of God and the answers to his prayers.
"Work with all your might, but trust not the least in your work."
He insisted that his hope was in God alone.
He had come to know and love the absolute sovereignty of God in the context of the doctrines of grace, and therefore he cherished it mainly as sovereign goodness. This gave him a way to maintain a personal peace beyond human understanding in the face of tre- mendous stress and occasional tragedy.
"The Lord never lays more on us in the way of chastisement than our state of heart makes needful; so that whilst He smites with one hand, He supports with the other."
In the face of painful circumstances he writes, "I bow, I am satis- fied with the will of my Heavenly Father, I seek by perfect submission to His holy will and to glorify Him, I kiss continually the hand that has thus afflicted me."
When he was about to lose a piece of property that he wanted for the next orphan house, he said, "If the Lord were to take this piece of land from me, it would be only for the purpose of giving me a still better one; for our Heavenly Father never takes any eartly thing from His children except He means to give them something better instead."
The sovereign goodness of God served, first and foremost, as the satisfaction of the soul. And then the satisfied soul was freed to sacrifice and live a life of simplicity and risk and self-denial and love. But everything flowed from the soul that is first satisfied in the gracious, sovereign God.
Why is this "the most important thing"? Why is daily happiness in God "of supreme and paramount importance"?
Becuase it glorifies God. It shows that God is gloriously satisfying.
"Glad self-denial" is the aroma of Mueller's life.
"Self-denial is not so much an impoverishment as a postponement: we make a sacrifice of a present good for the sake of a future and greater good."
Therefore happiness in God is of "supreme importance" because it is the key to love that sacrifices and takes risks.
"Whatever be done... in the way of giving up, or self-denial, or deadness to the world, should result from the joy we have in God."
If happiness in God is "of supreme and paramount importance" because it is the spring of sacrificial love that honors God, then the crucial question becomes - how do we get it and keep it?
"This happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself to us in the face of Jesus Christ. In them... we become acquainted with the character of God. Our eyes are divinely opened to see what a lovely being God is! And this good, gracious, loving, Heavenly Father is ours, our portion for time and eternity."
Knowing God is the key to being happy in God.
Therefore the most crucial means of fighting for joy in God is to immerse oneself in the Scriptures where we see God in Christ most clearly. When he was 71 years old, Mueller spoke to younger be- lievers: "Now in brotherly love and affection I would give a few hints to my younger fellow-believers as to the way in which to keep up spiritual enjoyment. It is absolutely needful in order that happiness in the Lord may continue, that the Scriptrues be regu- larly read. These are God's appointed means for the nourishment of the inner man... Consider it, and ponder over it... Especially we should ready regularly through the Scriptures, consecutively, and not pick out here and there a chapter. If we do, we remain spiritual dwarfs. I tell you so affectionately. For the first four years after my conversion I made no progress, because I neglected the Bible. But when I reagularly read through the whole with reference to my own heart and soul, I directly made progress. Then my peace and joy continued more and more. Now I have been doing this for 47 years. I have read through the whole Bible about 100 times and I always find it fresh when I begin again. Thus my peace and joy have increased more and more."
He would live another 21 years and pick up the pace so that he managed to read through the Bible at least 200 times before he died.
He never changed his strategy for satisfaction in God. When he was 76 he wrote the same thing he did when he was 60.
"I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I aught to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it... What is the food of the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and... not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts."
The aim of George Mueller's life was to glorify God by helping people take God at His word. To that end he saturated his soul with the Word of God. At one point he said that he reads his Bible five to ten times more than he reads any other books. His aim was to see God in Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead in order that he might maintain the happiness of his soul in God. By this deep satisfaction George Mueller was set free from the fears and lusts of the world. And in this freedom of love he chose a strategy of ministry as a style of life that put the reality and trustworthiness and beauty of God on display. (Quite interstinly to me, is why he chose to found and support orphanages. It wasn't primarily the help and care of the orphans that motivated him; rather it was looking for a means by which to allow God to work through him and bring the greatest visible glory to Himself. This is an awesome way of looking at ministry and one that, in my mind, bears much consideration. C.)
To use his own words, his life became a "visible proof to the unchangeable faithfulness of God."
I will let him have the closing word and plea for us to join him in the path of radical, joyful faith:
"My dear Christian reader, will you not try this way? Will you not look for yourself... the preciousness and the happiness of this way of casting all your cares and burdens and necessities upon God? This way is as open to you as it is to me... Every one is invited and commanded to trust the Lord, to trust in Him with all his heart, and to cast his burden upon Him, and to call upon Him in the day of trouble. Will you not do this, my dear brethren in Christ? I long that you may do so. I desire that you may taste the sweetness of that state of heart, in which, while surrounded by the difficulties and necessities, you can yet be at peace, because you know that the living God, your Father in heaven, cares for you."

Full Circle

In much the same way that Al Gore is responsible for the invention of the Internet, I should probably go ahead and announce that I am personally responsible for our ability to download music and create custom made CDs. I will not take credit for the iPod or iPhone, but they are obviously byproducts of the former.
I have loved music since WKY radio on the AM dial and Simon and Garfunkel introduced me to "The Sounds of Silence" as a child. I immediately went out and bought the 45 and played it until I wore out the grooves. I still have a pretty substantial album collection (even though they never get played any more I can't seem to part with them) that morphed into a cassette tape collection and now a CD collection.
But even as a kid I used to think there needed to be a way to take all my favorite songs from all my favorite albums and artists and combine them into a single album of random songs. I know they have "The best of the '60s" or "Greatest Love Songs of All Times" and that kind of thing, but I wanted a way to put my favorite songs together, not somebody elses.
And now, as a direct result of magical thinking, it is possible for everyone to do just that! You can thank me later.
A few years ago before Jacob's conscience became tender, and I was clueless, he illegally downloaded some songs and made a few CDs for me. I have played them endlessly and they were showing serious signs of wear and tear. Plus I had been making a list of other songs I wanted burned--to the tune of two note book pages filled front and back with titles and artist.
I had been asking him to put it on his list of "things to do before I leave for Nashville" to--this time legally--make some new CDs for me. Just because I thought there aught to be a way to do it in no way means I actually know how to do it myself.
So today he got out his laptop computer, gathered all my old CDs and my list of songs and is in the process of making me a new collection of all my favorite tunes.
Some of them I haven't heard for years and just a few minutes ago I was listening to the old Rod Stewart song "Leave Virginia Alone" and though it was never much of a hit for some reason, it brought back vivid memories of Jordan and me dancing to it in our kitchen.
He loved music as much as I do and it was one of many things we had in common and it contributed mightily to the tight bond between us.
I stood in my kitchen and cried as I remembered Jordan and all the music we loved and shared. But I was also crying because Jacob was served me so selflessly by doing something that means so much to me when there are a million other things I'm sure he would rather have been doing.
The memories these songs created with Jordan have created new memories with Jacob. It binds my heart to theirs in a way I can't explain, but that moves me to tears.
Either that or I'm getting ready to have one last period.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Hmmmm. What to say today. I guess I'll just say what's on my mind.
I'm sure you have all heard me refer to my children as being in "various stages of gone." And it's true and keeps getting truer!
Jordan is the most gone, of course. Gone at least from this life, from our presence, from our ability to see and hear and touch and kiss him. But alive with Chirst!
When Jessie graduated from high school and joined Jacob at OU, they were gone as well. Gone from our house, gone from our every day life, gone from our parental control, but not from our parental concern.
Now Jacob is leaving for Nashville two weeks from today and Jessie will be leaving to study abroad in England on September 20th.
That's GONE!
I am thrilled for them, of course. Thrilled to watch them grow into young adults--after all, I always said my job as a mother was to work myself out of a job! Thrilled that they both love the Lord and follow him with all their hearts and give me absolutely no cause for concern or grief. Thrilled they are having adventures, spreading their wings, finding their place in life and society and ministry. Thrilled to think about what lies ahead for them and to watch the adventure unfold. Thrilled to have a relationship with them that is different than the one I had with them when they were children. Thrilled with all God is doing.
Having them gone and so far away will be difficult. Jay has always said, "They can live any where in the world they want to as long as it's on the same block we live on!"
I totally get that sentiment.
I wish they were mine to have and to hold and to keep forever. It was never my intention, but all I have ever done besides love God is raise kids. But at this point if it weren't for the first book in "The Rhyme and Reason Series" being ready to launch I would need to be shackeld down, locked up and have really good drugs pumped directly into my aorta.
The good news is that: GOD IS GOOD! The four of us are all starting new adventures and I will have enough going on to keep me marvelously distracted!
The better news is there is e-mail, Face Book, Twitter, cell phones, Skype, flight benefits and all kinds of modern technology to keep us all connected.
God is good! "For such a time (my time!) as this!"

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Rhema of Isaiah 40:26

I graduated from Alexis I. du Pont High School in Wilmington, Delaware, in June of 1976 and immediately left for YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and the Discipleship Training School in Hammonton, New Jersey.
I had given my life to the Lord in a juvenile detention center in Monroe, Louisiana, a day or so after a little country preacher picked me up while I was hitchhiking to Florida and bought me a Dairy Queen hamburger which I scarfed down while he shared the gospel with me.
Pretty soon after that encounter with God my aunt and uncle came and took me to live with them which is how I got to Wilmington via Oklahoma City and the Sunbeam Home. I was never a stellar student, being more interested in getting high and shooting pool that sitting in a classroom, but I somehow managed to graduate by the skin of my dentist's daughters teeth.
At that point college was not even a consideration. The last thing I wanted was more schooling! Besides, my zeal for the Lord made me eager to follow in my friend Ellis' footsteps and head for Hammonton and missionary life.
The DTS was three months long with two to three daily sessions of lectures by various pastors, staff members, YWAM leadership and other Christian teachers. Between the staff and students, there were probably 70-75 people who lived in community on the base that first year I was there.
After the DTS came the "practical application and ministry" phase where we learned to put into practice the things we had learned in the classroom, in our "flock groups," in our private prayer times and in corporate living. To that end, we piled onto school buses and drove all the way from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey to La Paz, Mexico at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula.
It wasn't total misery and "opportunities for growth." We stopped along the way we ministered in various churches and stayed in people's homes for a night or two until it was time to hit the road again armed with Spanish Bibles and the Spanish scripture choruses we had diligently learned to sing and strum on our guitars.
We set up camp and pitched tents just outside of La Paz, but seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and began various forms of ministry to the poverty stricken region.
There was a single concrete building where we held the evening worship and teaching sessions and which, along with your flash- light, was the only source of artificial light after dark.
I went for a walk by myself one night and followed a dirt path that led to a large concrete slab. I have no idea what purpose it served, but for some reason I decided to stop and have a seat and as I did, I tilted my head back and looked up into the ebony sky.
The weather was perfect and the night was as black as the velvet on sidewalk Elvis painting. Stars littered the heavens from one horizon to the other. The longer I looked the more my eyes adjusted and the more sparkling flecks of blue and white I could see.
My heart began to overflow with a deep sense of the awesome majesty of the great and mighty God of the universe, the King and Creator of all things. At that moment, my heart was so filled with a deep and fierce need to know God and to know He knew me that I jumped up, ran back to my tent, grabbed my Bible, bolted for the concrete building and with tears spilling down my cheeks, begged God to speak to me.
I was young, only 18, and I had only been a Christian about three years. I hadn't yet experienced God speaking directly to me through His word. But I was overcome by some unseen, inner compulsion for Him to do just that. I also was not very familiar with the Bible and had no idea where to start reading.
I flipped the book open and my eyes fell on this verse in Isaiah 40:26, "Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing."
It is impossible to describe the profoundness of that moment. The great "I AM" the Ancient of Days, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, had just spoken to me as surely as if He were sitting right next to me in the flesh.
I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God, by His incredible love for me, by His omniscience, by the beauty of His living word and with His very presence.
I went out again to be by myself and bask in the richness of it all. His presence was such a deluge that I could only absorb it. I couldn't even respond with worship and praise though I longed to be able to. But all attempts seemed so puny and shallow in the face of such great love that I simply let my heart express the inexpres- sible praises that flowed from it in wave after wave of adoration and thanksgiving and awe.
To this day that remains one of my favorite memories and one of my favorite verses in Scripture. Because it stamped on my heart an assurance of the deeply profound and intimate love God has for all of His created beings, and for me personally.
"To God be the glory, great things He has done!" For you. For me. For the world.