These writings are for the imperfect person searching for more of the Perfect God.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Four questions that can change your life

Who knew that four simple questions contained enough power to expose the raw elements of my soul, reveal the hidden character defects of my heart and uncover the out-of-order thinking of my mind?

Yes, four questions.


You see, the enemy of the soul is crafty.  Isn't he?

His main objective is to grip me in the web of fear.
Imprison me in the stronghold of self-doubt.
Enmesh me in the bondage of emotional torment.

He undoubtedly spends his time, energy and resources on keeping us from experiencing, at all costs, the joy, peace and rest of operating out of the Fathers love- A love, that once has been tasted, immediate inner transformation begins to manifest in every dark corner of our being.


And so, through the darkness of his slithering, crafty, deceitful presence, he whispers fear and lies into the hearts of God's children.

Yes, the same children who have direct access to every divine resource and power needed to live a life of freedom and victory.  Who contain every piece of armor of protection from the enemies decoys and weapons.  And who reside in the safety and security of God's shadow of unspeakable love.

And yet because the enemy is CRAFTY and his only objective is to kill, steal and destroy, he will be relentless in his pursuit for my, your, their  *peace *joy *worth *value *security *significance.

Instead, he will sow seeds of fear.  Self-doubt.  Shame.  Regret.  Anxiety-over-the-unknown.  Insecurity.  Which, unmistakably, naturally grow a harvest of that which will inflict harm to myself and those I love.

And so, these four questions are not just questions.  No, they're a powerful weapon of defense and a radical flood-light exposing any and all tactics, craftiness, deceit and depiction the enemy may have waged war on the soul.

1.  WHERE IS MY AFFECTION?
     (What do I wake up and go to sleep thinking about?  A fear? An emotion? A person? A worry? A place?  A thing?  An object?  A desire?  A want?  A need?)

2.  WHERE IS MY ATTENTION?
     (Who and what have my continual attention of the heart?)

3.  WHERE IS MY IMAGINATION?
     (What and where does my mind drift when there is down time?)

4.  WHERE IS MY FOCUS?
     (Work, money, family, self, others, ministry...)

And then it occurred to me...

Wherever and whomever I run to during moments of insecurity, IS MY SECURITY.


Is Jesus my security?
Is He the One I run to when my heart is grieving over a deep loss?
Is He the One I turn to when fear-of-the-unknown has presented itself into my life's circumstances?
Is He the One I cling to when the presidential candidates threaten to resurrect fear on the throne of my heart?

Is He the One I look at when Target changes bathroom policies?

Oh yes, the enemy is crafty alright and will stop at nothing to water down the power and the testimony of our lives by carefully and craftfully (No, that's not a real word) fixing our attention, affection, imagination and focus on the problem instead of the Solution.

How generationally impactful of a testimony I would have if I used the power of prayer BEFORE the counterfeit power of my voice.   And yet, It's never counterfeit if the words which flow from my lips are first from the purified fruits of a heart that was first devoted to prayer.

I'm more and more convinced order is everything- It is the difference between life and death.  Of blessing and curse.  Of beauty and ashes.
May my words always first be ones that have been brought to the cross, coated in His presence and purified in His unfathomable, unequaled love.  It's then and only then will each letter of my words provide life, blessing and a future for all those who receive it.

Father God,
This world needs more of you and so much less of me.  Humble me, Jesus, and enable my life to represent that which brings you glory and honor.  Please infuse us all with Your power to refuse to live a life that lives, operates, thinks and is founded on fear.  Mold us into a community, a remnant of people, who love you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength- enabling You to be our source of affection, attention, imagination and focus-- where our lives will stand as a powerful testimony of Your goodness and the fruits of Your presence manifest themselves in our hearts, overflowing onto each and every hurting person in this deeply fallen world.

You are The Solution.  You Are The Answer-- in every world problem, in every life circumstance, in every grip of fear, in every entanglement of sin, in every grief of the heart, in every bondage of addiction, in every unfair injustice, in every depressed and oppressed soul, in every chaos and confusion.  Yes, Lord, You are THE ANSWER.  THE HOPE.  THE KEY.  THE REMEDY.  THE WAY.  THE TRUTH.  The One that can take a selfish, prideful, confused, hurting, wounded and out-of-order heart like my own, and use it to reflect the beauty of who you are and the power of what only You can do.  Please give me the wisdom, discernment, courage and strength to wait on you- in words, deeds, decisions, opinions, and ways.  Everything must first be brought before you, so that you can eradicate any and all darkness, wrongful motive, fear, anxiousness and impurities in all I believe, think, feel, do and say.


And it's here, in this place, You provide the belief system of my heart with the One True solution to the four questions posed above... Jesus, You are the answer.




Friday, April 15, 2016

Home.

Father God,

Do you remember the little seven year old with the braided hair?
You know the one.

The foster child who was sent to wait for me, her social worker, on the front porch of her foster home because they no longer wanted her.

Do you remember this Father?

Sitting on the cold, wet concrete steps of a home that just days before welcomed her in as a new family member- to this particular evening where they kicked her out, indefinitely.
rejected.
dismissed.
shamed.

Her behaviors were too bad.  Too ugly.  Too destructive. Too....

So, at 2:am they provided her with a much-too-large black garbage bag to pack up her few belongings and sent her to the front porch under the slightly glowing porch light, to wait for me.
In the dark.
In Detroit.
In the middle of the night.
Alone.
Seven years of age.

Father, does she still have the haunting memory of this?
Maybe the sound of the door closing and locking behind her as she fearfully began to sit down on the cold step to wait for my arrival, all the while clinging to a garbage bag of her life.
No mommy.
No daddy.
No home.

Pulling up that late evening onto the cracked and uneven driveway of a questionable Detroit neighborhood, I still remember the Jeep's headlights outlining her frizzy, unkept, sweet little braids- yes, the individual strands on her head that have been each counted by you, Jesus.

That picture of her, Lord.
Yes, you know the one.
Tears streaming down her face and neck as she gripped onto the only tangible thing that was hers, a black oversized garbage bag.
Trying to be strong, this seven year old, but internally wounded, broken, confused and beaten down.

But You, Father God,
You saw beyond her behaviors and straight to her fears.
You saw beyond her confusion and straight to her needs.
You saw beyond her anger and straight to her pain.
You saw beyond her tears and straight to her heart.

Yes Jesus, you knew the reality of her life;
What her eyes had seen.
What her ears had heard.
What her body has been subjected to.
What her mind had been informed.
What her life had been labeled.

All by the age of seven short years.

Oh Father God, her behaviors were only a natural byproduct of the horrific injustice, the enormous violations, the unthinkable negligence, the detestable abuse and the hideous disregard to the preciousness, value and worth of her life.

Father, as Jamie and I took her soft little hand into ours, we led her safely and carefully into the Jeep where my arms spread across her shivering shoulder.  Gripping onto this little life that was shaking from the elements of the night air, but also from the fear which consumed her confused and broken heart, her head hesitatingly but eventually found its way onto my lap where she fell asleep until we reached another home.  Another placement.  Another opportunity for rejection.

Oh Father God, why is it that nearly 20 years later, there isn't a week that goes by in my everyday life when You don't place this on my heart and mind?

Yes, this memory, this precious one, that night, that young age, that door-step, that garbage bag, that jeep ride, those braids- they tell a story in the confinement of my heart.  A story of me, them, us.

Maybe we are the little seven year old who was exposed to the harshness, darkness, cruelty, injustice of this world system that belongs not to You Perfect Father, but to that of the one who seeks to kill, steal and destroy.

With each rejection,
With each shame msg,
With each violation,
With each lie,
With each addiction,
With each compulsion,
With each failure,
With each....

Oh, but how You see us as I saw this seven year old;
beautiful.
precious.
innocent.
blameless.
holy.
cherished.
loved.
prized.
treasured.

....regardless of the behaviors.
They may have scared her foster parents.
They may have frightened others.
They may have upset those around her.
But to You, dear Father, You see beyond that which frightens others and separates the beauty from the ashes.

Yes, there was nothing more beautifully treasured in all the world than this prized possession snuggled in my lap that one September evening in 1998.

My eyes had never seen such perfection.
My heart had never experienced such a treasure.
My mind had never conceived such a love as it did that one evening in the presence of this little one who was rejected, labeled, shamed, spit-out, abused and dismissed by a world who judged her according to her survival mechanism of poor-behavior.

Yes, Lord, I now understand why you will not allow my spirit to forget, to set-aside, to place on a shelf, this particular night.  Thank you for keeping it alive so that I can more fully, completely, radically, undeservingly understand the way in which You view and love your children- regardless of our behaviors.

You are not the least intimidated by our poor choices, our strong-holds, our failures, our short-comings, our defects of character.  No, there is no kicking-out and sending us to the front porch when we behave poorly.

Instead, you offer the gift of grace.  Oh, the greatest gift of all time.  No ear has heard, no eye has seen, no mind could imagine that which you have prepared for those that love you.

You prepare and offer us a home of protection, of love, of grace, of kindness, of security, of acceptance, of freedom, of forgiveness so that we can have a new, restored, redeemed, rebuilt life.  One that takes our poor behavior and radically transforms it into something unfathomably beautiful.

No, fear & cruelty are not your weapons of defense against our poor behaviors and choices.  Instead, your grace, love and unthinkable mercy changes our hearts and therefore releases us from the captivity and bondage of the enemies web- often seen as bad behavior to the outside world.

It's here, Father, in this transaction can our "bad-behavior" be fully, completely and radically eliminated.  Your cross is the Only answer.  Your cross is the only remedy.  Your cross is the only cure.  Your cross is the only solution.  Your cross is my home.