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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Pause

A year-end pause.

What I'm listening to.
Mumford & Sons.
Kari Jobe.
JJ Heller.
Ryan Gosling's band Dead Man's Bones, complete with piano and children's choir.
Phil Wickham, always.

What I'm watching.
Parks and Recreation, Season Two. Amy Poehler is running through my mind.

Sherlock Holmes, A Game of Shadows. A genius film, perfected by the brilliance of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. I left the theatre wishing people still dressed like that (hats? canes? trousers? overcoats? so.cool). I know Sherlock and I would be friends, with his penchant for details and his art of observation. Holmes, you make thinking look so cool.

What I'm reading.
A Study in Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The first in the Sherlock Holmes collection! Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes have just met - I'm pumped for the adventures to come!

The Only Necessary Thing, a collection of writings on prayer by Henri Nouwen.
"Our ability to think is our greatest gift, but it is also the source of our greatest pain. Do we have to become victims of our unceasing thoughts? No, we can convert our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer by making our inner monologue into a continuing dialogue with our God, who is the source of all love. Let's break out of our isolation and realize that Someone who dwells in the center of our beings wants to listen with love to all that occupies and preoccupies our minds."

Rereading One Thousand Gifts, a treasure by Ann Voskamp.

Exodus. Beginning book two of the Holy Bible.

What I think you should read.
A beautiful blog post a friend wrote on the Hunger Games and the armor of God. Read even if the name Katniss doesn't send chills up your arm. From my friend's beautiful mind to yours - she's a gift. www.werewolfjesus.com

What I'm learning.
What I am learning. whew. It's still processing and unfolding, but it's exciting! I am learning gratitude, that giving thanks is the key to the fullest life in Christ. I am learning to fight, to use the armor of God. I am learning discipline, in all things. I am learning the expanse of a big, big God, an I AM WHO I AM kind of God. It changes everything.

What I'm memorizing.
Psalm 51. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

What I'm remembering.
Our God came. In the form of a tiny baby. He came because He loves us. He loves what He created. What a love.

Take a pause. Then keep going.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sit With Me

Max Braverman, a boy with Asperger's syndrome and a desire to see dinosaurs, takes matters into his own hands. He boards a city bus and goes out on his own to find the museum. Minutes measured in TV time later, he is found wandering the streets and is brought home in the back of a police car to face his worried family. The first thing from his mouth-- can he feed his lizard?

Haddie Braverman, teenage sister, is upset. Max, she calmly says, do you know what happened today? Do you know that you can't just walk off without telling anyone? Max's attention is not holding and he is not caring and Haddie's emotion builds. The things she's held so tight instead force their way out - THIS ISN'T FAIR. We try so hard. It's not fair. She flees the scene crying and her brother is asking for his lizard.

Adam Braverman, father, makes his way into his daughter's room after the chaos of the day. He sits on her bed and hears her apologies. He explains that things are hard for her, she handles a lot, and a causal nod of the head and Haddie says it's fine. An attempt to brush it off, Adam looks at her and says no it's not fine.

I guess it's not fine, but it is the way that it is.
I'm sorry it's hard.
I know it's not his fault, but it just sucks a little.
Yeah. It does.
And with her tear stained eyes, he holds her close.

No reprimand or words to fill silence. An honest look, an honest affirmation, a courageous dive into the scary things we face. A powerful interchange of understanding. You're not alone. I know.

There are the things in our lives we can't control. Even the things we can control. With our gallant efforts, we work so hard! We do our best, we make do, we smile, we nod, and sometimes we snap. We scream, we yell, we cry, we allow ourselves to feel the weight. THIS ISN'T FAIR. In that moment when it hits, that powerful reaction, when we snap, when the facade wears thin, when we're sad, when we're confused, is for someone to say yeah. it does. i know.

The value of someone just sitting with you.

Reading through the book of Job gives you a good sense of what bad community looks like. A best friend and I read through the book last year and it helped us redefine our friendship. Our friendship of sitting with each other. A friendship without empty words or loud encouragement. A friendship of presence. As Job, if all is stripped away and we are left with nothing but our lives in shambles, I know I will look to my right and see her sitting with me. The silence of her presence will mean everything.

So sit with me.
I'll sit with you.
When words aren't enough and advice won't do and you don't know what to do and life is tricky, I'll tell you 'yeah. i know.' And then we'll sit together, sometimes in silence but always in love, and we'll patiently watch the work of God melt our human hearts and point us.

Sit with me.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Life as Worship

I've been David these days. I'm floundering and stumbling after God, misunderstanding Him and grabbing at works. I'm stuck in His grace, frantically looking for an answer - is this really as good as it sounds? My tiny ant brain is forcing itself to define the magnitude of God and when it can't, I strip Him of that power.. because it seems less frightening than grasping that the God that formed man from dust, breathed life into man, guided eternity to salvation, loves me so intimately. Doesn't that take your breath away?

When Moses asks 'who should I say sent me' and God says I AM WHO I AM, I fight to understand. And my sinfulness says, but how do I earn that?

Jesus is a gift, a gift we cannot earn. I read who this mighty, powerful God is and I am moved by the act of taking on flesh. The act of dying a crucifixion death, of coming alive, of the promise of return. And I fumble through my days with lack of discipline, vowing that I can do it all on my own, with eyes bent on making it out on top. Is this really what I offer God in return? I lose sight and it is so frustrating.

I battle. I want to give God perfection. But this unattainable goal only produces mounds of frustration and guilt and the realization that that will never happen. I slip into defining the gift of Christ by worldly standards - you give me a gift, I give one back. You gave me the gift of life? I don't know how to give you anything in return. I am human, sinful, broken, my heart is so ugly sometimes. Will you take that?

And I'm realizing God answers that question with a resounding yes.

From David's heart, he cries in Psalm 51 to be washed in a cleanliness that comes only from the presence of God. 'Create in me a clean heart, O God,' David cries, 'and renew a right spirt within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.' What a beautiful, humbling confession.

My eye catches in verse 17 - 'my sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.'

I flash to Romans where Paul writes of presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. I flash to the imperfect lives of the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews, who stumbled and questioned, but who were counted righteous because of their faith. I jump to the Gospels and read the character of Jesus. I wrap my head around the fact that this love is something I will never be able to wrap my head around. But what I do rest in is that I can be thankful. God desires our hearts, our worship.

He knows what He's doing when He loves us unconditionally. He knows our limitations, our humanness, and when we cry out to Him, He is pleased. Scripture says that when we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, that is our spiritual worship. Giving the whole of our lives. I commit to giving God just that, the whole of my life, and I know that I'm not always going to. I know that I'm going to fall short, I know that will make my song sad, I know I'm going to forget God's character. But what a grace! And that I live by, no matter how humanly crazy it sounds.

Not a gift to understand fully, or to shake off nonchalantly, or to march forward defiantly. It is a gift to humbly fall down, to lay crowns at the feet of Jesus, and to live in gratitude. My life as worship. To humbly cry as David 'Lord have mercy!' And to humbly know He hears that cry. Then I begin to replace my vocabulary of 'try', 'harder', 'do your best'.. with 'posture', 'faith', 'worship', 'gratitude'.
My sacrifice is a broken and contrite heart and I transform and mold that, with the help of the Great Perfecter, into worship.

Life as worship.