Thursday, December 31, 2009

I have the feeling that this is the first of many post to come in the next couple of days. True to the tradition of looking back over the past year and looking forward to the new year, my mind is busy recalling moments from the past. I am choosing though to look back and see the moments where the Lord met me and offered his promises and hope.

A couple of days ago, a special friend of mine forwarded me an email that I wrote to her in 1998! I can't believe she still had it!!!! What was even more incredible is how the Lord ministered to me through the words he gave me that many years ago. I am amazed at how alive and near the Lord is to our hearts and lives. He truly is a personal and real God who longs to have an intimate place in our lives.

I hope this will encourage and bless you as well.

(Based on Psalm 121)  I am convinced that thousands of years ago, when the Lord inspired  David to write this psalm, that he saw across the pages of time and  saw me. He saw the tears that fell tonight as I laid in bed. He felt  the ache that I felt inside. A hurt so deep that only he could know  it. He saw my need. And he reached out and met it. God knew all that  this evening would hold and he provided the right lullaby that my  heart and soul needed.          What food these words hold to a hungry and empty soul. What  lessons for this stubborn heart to learn. What comfort for these teary  eyes to behold.           I lift my eyes....where have my eyes been today? Certainly  not lifted.No, my eyes have not been lifted up to behold my Savior,  my King, my Lord. My eyes have not even lifted their gaze to cry out  to him who sees all. My eyes have been on me and the world around me.  My eyes have sought out one other than Jesus to hold and comfort me.  Another one to be my help. My eyes have searched to find a way to do  it myself, to make things right in my own strength. My eyes have laid  downcast for days because they have failed to look in the right direction.           Where does my help come from? My mind knows where its  supposed to come from, but does my heart? Its learning. How awesome  that God didn't label the kind of help he provides. This help is for  all situations and all times. Oh that my heart would learn this  precious truth and really ask where does my help come from. Does help  come from man? No, he fails and is weak. He cannot conquer all. He can not even be trusted  or counted upon. Does  my help come from within? From some inner strength? No, there is no  strength in me. I cannot help me. If I could then I would not need  help, would I ?          My help comes from the only one able to give it. Jesus, my  helper. He is able to stand when all else falls. He is able to hold  me up when I'm crushed and faltering. He is able and has conquered  sin and death. He is able to love forever and unconditionally. He is  able to do what none other can do. He is able to be there at any  minute day or night with his ears and eyes wide open. And he wants to help. He longs for me to run into his arms and  find shelter from the raging storm. He yearns to be able to wrap his  arms around me and comfort my aching heart. He is able.             How do I know he is able? Because he made the heavens and  the earth. If he can do all that with just one word from his mouth  then isn't he big enough to take care of me? He's even better than a  big brother ....He's the daddy there to protect and nurture his children. '             He will not allow my foot to be moved. Wow! What  encouragement. Today I'm struggling. Life seems like one great big  mountain and I'm at the bottom. There seems to be no way up and I  want to give up before I even start. I feel as though I've walked a  million miles. I'm feeling unsteady, ready to fall. Ready to find a  new path. But my Lord, my helper, has promised to not let me fall. He has promised to bring me all the way. He has  promised to keep me on the path. My foot will not collapse, nor will  it wander from the chosen trail. Why? God will hold me fast. He has  promised and he keeps his promise.                He does not sleep. My God is awake twenty four hours a  day. He never goes on break. Tonight this is probably the greatest  comfort of all to me. Because tonight my whole world sleeps. And I  feel alone. Man tries. They try to stay awake but they are human and  tired. Their eyes are heavy. So I cry alone. A hurt inside I don't  understand. A burden so heavy to bear on my own and no one to help carry the load. Alone until a small still whisper  hits my ears. " I am awake." My Jesus is awake. He is ready to listen  and will not fall asleep in the middle of the sentence. He will not  nod off as the tears still stream down my face. He will hold me until  the pain subsides. He has promised to never sleep. I know no other friend who can make this promise.            The Lord is my keeper. He guards my life with tender  loving care. Nothing touches me that hasn't already touched him. You  see it has to go through his body to get to mine. He feels every  pain, he sheds tears along with me, he has been through it all even  worse things than I. Why then if he feels and knows all I go through, why does he allow it to  touch me? Why does he allow death to shatter my life? Why does he allow pain to break my  heart? Why does he allow confusion to enter the scene? Because he  sees something I don't. He sees eternity. He sees what all of these  things will produce. He knows what I need in order to become more like him.          He shall prserve my soul. My Jesus will hold me and keep me  until the day he presents me to the Father. No one and nothing can  seperate me from him. I will never be lost.... God has promised. He  will keep me from wandering. His spirit will always draw me back home.           He shall watch over my going out and coming in. Just as he  was here tonight, he will be here tomorrow....... 

Monday, December 21, 2009

I read this today on a blog that I follow. It is huge!!! I am still trying to digest it and let the truth soak in. I can't wait to see what God will do in my heart as the truth invades and becomes reality.

9 words that changed my life by Jon @ SCL

Post by Jon at Stuff Christians Like

Sometimes, hope hurts.

It shouldn’t. The phrase, “hope hurts” should be an oxymoron like “Lady Gaga gospel album.” But I promise you, it’s not.

Sometimes when you’re so deep in a season of hurt, you get used to the bad. You start to think you deserve it. You start to expect it and get comfortable with it and get numb to it. And like a creature that lives so far down on the bottom of the sea, you adapt to it. You cobble together little survival mechanisms that help you get through. You get by.

But hope is tenacious …

Even in the darkest of my days, when I’d journal about suicide and despair, a fragment of hope still bounced about softly in the dryer of my head. (When you’re married with kids and have lots of laundry to do, 42% of your metaphors and analogies become housework flavored.)

There was a problem though, there was a painful obstacle between me and hope. You see, I was so far down the path of hopelessness, I was so lost and selfish and bent on destruction that I found myself in a terrible lose-lose situation. For example: If my wife was kind to me, I felt hurt because she didn’t know how hurtful I was secretly being to her with porn and a cadre of lies that would have killed her. If my wife was mean to me, I felt hurt because she had been mean to me. Any way I turned, simply resulted in more grossness.

And that is one of sin’s goals. Not simply to remove the good from your life, but to have it actually serve as a weapon of mass destruction.

Have you ever felt that way?

Have you ever felt completely unworthy when someone offers you love?

Have you ever been ashamed of the lies you’re living when someone offers you truth?

Have you ever felt undeserving of something good, because deep down, you believed that person wouldn’t really love you if they knew who you were?

It’s very possible that I’m the only one, and that’s OK. But I do need to tell you about the 9 words in the Bible that changed the way hope felt for me.

I’ve written about this before, but I’m a big fan of “edge verses.” I’m a big fan of looking on the periphery of a scene in the Bible and seeing all the deep truth that often gets hidden amidst a major scene. And in Luke 22 that certainly happens.

Jesus is on the threshold of getting crucified. He has the last supper with his disciples. He is sharing his thoughts on the father and the concept of serving and ruling. There is a sense of great importance heavy in the air. In the middle of that, he has a short conversation with Simon about how he is going to betray him.

It’s going to happen. Jesus knows this, but he wishes it wasn’t. He says to Simon in Luke 22:31-32:

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.

And then, in 9 words, he explains a big part of the reason I thought a mess-up like me could be a Christian.

Jesus tells Simon:

“And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

That’s it, those are 9 really simple words, but they demand a second look.

Do you see what Jesus is saying in that first half of the sentence, And when you have turned back? He’s saying:

And when you fail.

And when you sin.

And when you blow it and sell me out like a common thief.

And when you literally and physically turn your back on me.

And when you ruin it all.

When you turn back.

That concept is part of why our God is so different than everything we expect. We can turn back. There’s a return. There’s a comeback. There’s a loss and a brokenness and a state of falling, but you can turn back. That door is open. When I read the phrase “And when you have turned back,” I read a loud, wild picture of what grace really looks like.

Then you get to the part that is so easy to miss, the comma. Thank God for the comma, because that’s not how I would have written that sentence.

Mine would have looked more like:

“And when you have turned back, repent for three years before you try to get within a mile of my holiness.”

“And when you have turned back, don’t think for a second you’re qualified to tell other people about me.”

“And when you have turned back, here’s a long list of works you’ll need to do in order to clean yourself of the mistakes you’ve made and the consequences you’ve earned.”

But Christ doesn’t do that! He throws in a comma. He continues the sentence and simply says, “strengthen your brothers.”

Four years ago I ruined my life, but you know what?

God gave me the gift of the comma.

And that’s why I write Stuff Christians Like.

I have turned back. Not once, not twice, but a million times. And now it’s time to strengthen my brothers.

I don’t know what you’ll get this Christmas for a present, but please know this, God wants to give you the comma. He wants to give you grace. He wants you to know that when you have turned back, you can still strengthen your brothers.

It’s time to accept the comma of grace.


Friday, December 11, 2009

I have been praying for a way to help my friends in their adoption journey. Recently, I have really felt my faith challenged as I read stories of others who have trusted for the Lord to provide and through crazy circumstances money flooded in. One particular story was huge....over $20,000 raised in 2 weeks. How incredible is that!!!

So I have been asking the Lord what I can do. The first thought that came to mind was to use my photography. Honestly, I have struggled with even presenting this idea. I am not a professional photographer in the sense that I have been trained in the art and skill of photography. I just love taking pictures and I love giving people images that are better than Walmart quality. I just hate charging people a fee for this gift! Those of you who know me know how much I would just give everything away!!!!

Recently, I have been blessed with the opportunity to do portraits for several friends and families. It was such a fun experience. And since others are asking me to do photo shoots for them I feel as though this could maybe the answer to my prayer. I am offering photo shoots at your location of choice (within the Colorado Springs and outlying area) for a minimum donation of $25 through the end of January. The entire donation will be sent to my friends, The Little Family, towards their adoption costs. In return for your generosity, I will give you a cd of edited and ready to print images. Usually there are at least 30-50 images per sitting.

For more information about the Little family and their adoption journey visit here