Thursday, September 29, 2011


Dut!  dut!  dut!  dut!

Voices shout out the rhythm. . .
Enter-- the drum line, heartbeat of the Tiger Pride Marching Band, their 100 members an intimidating force, one to be reckoned with.

They perform outside for a reason . . .
But once a year, venture indoors, producing a sensational thrill of exhilaration like none other. This was my recent experience as my daughter led the flute section down the aisle of the auditorium, followed by trumpets, tubas, mellophones and the like.

The audience was caught up. . .
in surround sound as the band flooded the aisles with waves of glorious splendor.  Awakening!  the title of their show, found no one sleeping in that place!  All band members followed in sync with the forceful, aggressive, heartbeat within their ranks. Student led, the band teacher purposefully slips into the background . . . unseen, as the band implements his carefully laid out plans.

What a picture of the body of believers, the Church. . .
brought to life by the heartbeat of the Spirit of God pulsing through our veins. Awakening!  God has written and arranged the piece, yet He Himself slips into the background as His Church carries out His marching orders. A mighty force, she carries out His purpose on earth.  Made up of many entities, each playing their part, the whole incomplete without all the parts.

What chaos would abound. . .
if each went off on their own agenda, each seeking their own limelight . . . no, that would be disastrous, for both the band and the Church.  Together, in unity, the members are an awesome force, having great impact on the world. God is building His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. (Matt. 16:18)  The Church is a power to be reckoned with, because our leader stands behind us.

So often the Church gets knocked down. . .
blamed for everything, accused by the world and slapped in the face by its own members.  But Christ loves the Church as His own body, laying down his life for her.  She is His bride. . .the apple of His eye.  Those who criticize the Church would tread on dangerous ground,  for it is through her, that God is accomplishing his purposes on earth.

I think of what brought the band to this place. . .
hours. . .days. . .even weeks of practice before school began.  And the Church, she too learns her sets in the privacy of the practice field, laboring in prayer and study of the Scriptures, before she enters the public eye.  In the quiet place, at the feet of Jesus, the plan is embedded in our hearts. Without time in His presence we would not know how to step or blow our horn.

The band endures strict scrutiny of judges. . .
checking for utmost excellence.  The Church also must stand before its accusers, no escape from pending doom since we are made up of humans with faults. But because of the blood of Jesus which covers all our sin, we are presented before our righteous judge, God Himself, as a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle, coming out of heaven as a bride beautifully dressed for her groom . . .

the Church triumphant!

(Eph. 5:27 and Rev. 21:2)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


"...I am going there to prepare a place for you..."
John 14:2

preparing a place for us...but also preparing us for that place.  

David-- just a shepherd boy, but chosen as king of Israel.  
Chosen, but not yet given the position.  
He must first be prepared.  
It begins with personal victories over lions and bears where no one sees...
no one knows.
Then a mountaintop triumph over a giant.  
But the training was only beginning...the real test...
not days, not even months, but years 
of being hunted down like a fugitive from his own father-in-law, King Saul.  

Now David finds himself seeking refuge among his enemies,
no where else to go.
Yet, even there suspicions arise and David is not safe.
He resorts to acting the part of a mad man.
Look at the mighty warrior Gath, the very town Goliath was from, 
scrounging like a fool,
Goliath's own sword in his possession, but unable to use it. 
Fleeing for his life with only caves in the hills as his home on the move.  
The lowest of low.  

"You [also] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood..."  (1st Pet.2:9)  
But have not yet been physically raised to that position.  
Our time on earth...preparation for that position in heaven.
Not days, not years...but a lifetime.  
How's the preparation going?  Feeling a little tired?  Trapped?  Low?  
Some days I'd rather escape it all, yet... In the LORD I take refuge. 
How then can you say to me:
         "Flee like a bird to your mountain" (Psa. 11:1)
rather than stay in this painful place of training.  
Some things we are asked to embrace are hard to swallow.  
Yet, our "...troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory 
that far outweighs them all."  (2 Cor. 4:17)
They are simply preparation making us worthy of that place.  

David came undone. He played the part of the fool. 
So I too would look like the fool
in surrender to God's training me for that place.

A song by FFH says it well.
Open up wide, swallow down deep
No spoon full of sugar could make it sweet...
I try to hide and then wonder why...
Why I'm still running when I know there's no escaping.

Come undone,
surrender is stronger
I don't need to be the hero tonight.
We all want love...we all want honor
Nobody wants to pay the asking price.

These trials on earth...
preparing me for royalty in eternity.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Neighbor's Window

I've let some people down today,
including myself.
I've said thoughtless words
coming straight from the well-spring of my heart.

The closing words to the sermon this morning still linger,
                       "Greater is He that is in me,
                         than he that is in the world."   
                                       1st John4:4
The world is not only out there,
but also in here...I am deemed part of that world.
The One who dwells in me,
is greater than my own own heart.
                     "This then is how we know we belong to the truth,
                     and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
                     whenever our hearts condemn us.
                    For God is greater than our hearts..."
                      1st John 3:19,20
Forgiveness heals,
consequences remain.

Depression descends, pulling me into its pit.
Sleep promises escape.
I head for the couch searching out a pillow.
I glance out my window.
Something catches my eye.
Sunflowers nod their heads at me,
and beckon me to their beauty from the most peculiar place...
inside my neighbor's window.

"Why is that so strange?" you might ask.
In all the six years we have lived in this house,
my neighbors have kept most of their curtains tightly drawn,
seclusion donned as privacy.
Today there are no curtains...but sunflowers.
My heart skips a beat.
Beauty.  Joy.  Hope of friendship.
I wonder if my neighbor knows how she has blessed my day...
and my heart.

I haven't picked any flowers lately,
all summer really.  I've been too busy to allow them to grace my table.
They've bloomed in my backyard neglected and unappreciated.
In fact, I've hardly noticed them.

My own window has a crack through it,
bandaged with packaging tape and dotted with
the artwork of my daughters' pokes-
so many fingerprints they give me the heebie jeebies.  (Is that a real word?)
It reminds me of my life...
my heart in need of cleansing,
my life in need of serenity.

God is greater than my own world,
the world within my thoughts.
Once again I look on the cross where You died.
I'm humbled by Your mercy and I'm broken inside.
I long for beauty...
Not just in my neighbor's window, but in mine.

Friday, September 16, 2011

In The Valley

"So the Philistines and the Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, 
with the valley between them."
1st Samuel 17:3

King Saul, an army, and a lot of shouting, but there was no one brave enough to descend to the valley and engage in warfare against Goliath.  I'm reminded of the lip service I give to following Christ, but how little affect that has on winning battles.  Sure, I talk about prayer.  I talk about diet or exercise.  I talk about personal disciplines.  I even read books on it.  I even watch others participate in it.  But it is all shouting from the mountaintop.  When will I ever stop making excuses and take responsibility for my own shortcomings?  

David tried on Saul's armor, but it was much too big.  Likewise, the victories others have won do not fit me.  I  cannot rely on their testimonies to be my own.  These battles must be fought with the arsenal God has given me--a sling and five stones.  A stone, a marker of remembrance--victories God has won in my past.  Bizarre...even strange tools to fight against an armed giant, but deeply personal.  What I have I give...a clay pot, broken in humility, with the fire of the Spirit of God blazing through the darkness. 

The early morning is my mountaintop.  This is when my courage is strengthened in the Lord.  But I cannot stay here all day.  How easy to speak of great victories from the mountain.  I must descend into the valley of my day and engage in battle. The deepest part of my valley is four in the afternoon.  It is then that temptations loom large before me.  But this is where I must fight.  This is not the time to let down my guard.  

"Who is this pagan...anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?" (1st Sam. 17:26).  What do I allow to defy the power of the living God within me?  My own appetites?  My own selfishness?  Pride? "For He has delivered me from the kingdom of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  (Col.1:13)   The Spirit of the Living God within me is powerful!  He does not bend the knee to sin, but rather it is I who allow these things to defy God.  

King Saul mocked David by stating a truth.  Yes, David was only a boy fighting against a grown, trained, and giant warrior.  Indeed, giants have been trained since my youth and have become quite at home in my life.  The enemy is skilled at knowing my weakness.  "But David persisted."  (1st Sam. 17:34)  Likewise, I press win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14)  I persist, aggressively engaging in battle against these giants.  I cannot remain passive, for if I do, they will overrun my life.   

"As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him."  (1st Sam. 17:48)  I take on these giants in my valley so that "... everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues His people, but not with sword and spear.  This is the LORD's battle, and He will give [it] to us." (1st Sam. 17:47) "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty." (Zech.4:6)

I enter the valley, on guard, prepared to engage in battle. 
The giants are big...God is bigger.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

For Such A Time As This

"...And who knows but that you have come to royal position
 for such a time as this?"  
Esther 4:14b

A perfect fit.  What may have seemed trite circumstance of the past was actually divine intervention preparing my son for such a time...and place as this.  Who would have thought it!  As I spent much of last week on the campus of Denver University, God has given me such assurance that my son is at this place on purpose-- God's purpose.

Tyler was birthed at home, the 5th generation on his father's side of the family in Boulder, CO.   He always preferred to be at home, never enjoying noise or chaos.  How fitting that he should choose a college in state, the campus a bubble of tranquility set in the heart of the city.

In 8th grade he competed in a math club which held its finals at DU.  There he was first introduced to the campus and made the comment that he might like to go to school here someday.

DU does not have a football team.  Hockey is their sport, and hockey has been Tyler's sport through high school.  Our desert town had an ice rink only a few years and Tyler played hockey those years the rink was in business.  Our family "lived" at the rink.  Some great family memories were made there.  Our town no longer has an ice rink, but it was here while it mattered for our family.

One reason Tyler chose DU was because he could get a double major in four years in his area of expertise.  He was so excited to actually see that work out in his schedule.  Because of the double major (3-D animation and computer programing), he was able to start into those classes his first semester.
                                          (putting his computer together-serious business)
Tyler's summer job was gained through a contact at church and was exactly in the field of his expertise.  He loved it.  He excelled at it.  Now the company is splitting in half, one branch operating in Denver and one continuing on in Parachute.  Tyler was recommended by his boss to work the Denver branch while at school...a perfect fit.

Tyler's best friend through high school was Asian by birth, but very American.  His roommate is from a place near Hong Kong, a finance major...a perfect fit.  His floor in the dorm is a non-substance floor, all the students signing a contract to be substance free not just at school, but in their lives while a student there--only one of two floors on the entire campus with such an agreement...a perfect fit.

His class consists of 1,450 students, the largest DU has ever seen, every room on campus filled.  As I watched them file into the gymnasium for their rite of passage as DU Pioneers I couldn't help but wonder in this sea of faces that God has my son among them to be salt and light in this dark place.  Oh, they think they are enlightened, but most of the students are not even aware that the unholy immorality (promoted as diversity) and deceptive teaching of the world's philosophies keep them in darkness.  Yet, my son is called to this place.
                                                (he's the short one walking in)
His required first year seminar class is on the study of light.  They have already had a "field trip" up Mt. Evans, 14,000 feet, where DU has an observatory.  The snows recently dusted the tips of the tallest mountains and so they couldn't make it to the top because of icy roads.  I'm reminded that the roads to the worlds ideals of light are, indeed, slippery.  But how stable is the road to the True Light from heaven.
                                                     (Tyler, on campus)
I believe Tyler's life has been prepared for such a time and place as this.  It has not been chance, but divine guidance.  God calls me to "look...and be utterly amazed" at what He will do in that place. (Hab.1:5)  Surely, "God's thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are His ways my ways... As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's ways higher than my ways, and His thoughts higher than my thoughts."  Isa. 55:8,9

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Way He Should Go

"Train up a child in the way he should go, 
and when he is old he will not depart from it."  Prov.22:6

Yesterday I was folding laundry and feeling rather weepy.  What's so sad about laundry you might ask?  I find the little stacks of each child's neatly folded clothes rather sentimental... and tomorrow we leave to take our son to college.   As our family prepares to move forward into this new phase of life I could not help reflecting on another woman I know who let go of her son--Jochebed.  

You might recall Jochebed, the mother of Moses, who released her son to the Nile River.  Years ago I released my son to the big scary world of 1st grade and from there he meandered through the reeds and rushes of his school years.  Now God asks me to surrender him again, to a much greater threat--university.  If God could raise a Moses from the palace of Egypt, could He not bring my son through the halls of a university?  

Over the last year I've wrestled with God over the issue of my son's schooling and wondered, "Is this the way he should go?"  Just this morning I read of another woman who released her son into a less than perfect environment--Hannah.  It is no accident that I read this part of Scripture on this day.  I believe it was meant for me at this time of my life.  As I reflect on my son's  life I'm reminded of those things which led him to...the way he should go.

First, it is training in godliness.  We do not simply fall into godliness, it must be trained.  Discipline and instruction in righteousness lead the child into the path of obedience.  If left alone, the only thing we fall into is sin.  I'm reminded of Eli's sons who by default fell into sin because they were not disciplined in godliness.

Second, it is the bent they are made for.  I'm reminded again of Eli's sons, made to be priests in the house of God, but instead fell from that calling. They missed it for lack of training in the way they should go.

By contrast, I'm also reminded of Samuel, Hannah's son, made to be a prophet of God, and trained for that purpose in,(of all places), the temple of God gone awry.  Samuel was placed in an environment filled with hypocrisy, tolerance, unholy appetite, deceit, and disrespect.  It was a place where the sacred was defiled.  Hannah knew from personal experience the tainting of its leaders.  She was not naive of its dangers.  How could she send her son to that place?  Not by trust in the institution, but by trust in her reliable God.  This was the place God wanted Samuel.  As I send my son into a place which has fallen drastically from its origins on Biblical principles, I'm reminded that this is where God has led him.  Like Hannah, I surrender him to that place.

Each year Hannah sewed a coat for Samuel and brought it to him.  I am certain that every stitch was woven with prayer.  Samuel learned to listen to the voice of God.  Likewise, my prayer for my son is that he may know the voice of God apart from all the other voices that entice him.  Yet to know God's voice, we must know God.  My prayer is that my son might go deeper with God, even in that place.  By faith I believe God will lead my son, not the institution. 

The way he should go...not always the way I expected or what I would plan for him, but the way God had planned for him.

Tyler, I'm reminded of all those discussions in the kitchen, the car, the office, the living room, and your room. I'm reminded of the solid sermons you sat under and the teaching of your church, your family-a precious gift.  Training in righteousness.  Like Samuel, listen to the voice of God, my son.  "...Stand firm. Let nothing move you.  Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  (1st Cor. 15:58)  Set your face as flint, "..for I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 1:4)

This is the way.  Walk in it.