Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where it's at

Working with the public is a wonderful thing but believe me; it's hard not to get cynical and sarcastic. Well I hate that. I don't want to be that way. I want to be full of joy. I want to be salt. I want to be light!

So here comes another Monday and I'm assigned to reception where a typical day for 5 workers is to screen and interview approximately 350 people. No problem though, I'm ready. I've had a great devotional time prior to work, I've got my spiritual armor on and as I open my window I am saying to the Lord... "Here I am, looking for opportunities today. Send me someone."

Hours later, the day is moving along typically but it's busier than usual and I'm feeling a weariness. I feel the cynic lurking.

"Number 203, window C please"

A shriveled little old lady with a handful of letters (I'm sure she does not understand) slowly makes her way to my window.

"Good afternoon ma'am. How may I help you today?"

Up comes a huge black handbag to the counter and she starts digging... and digging.

"Ma'am, I see you have some letters there. Do you need help with them?"

Her arm is into the handbag up to her elbow now. "I know you need to see my ID. I had it just a moment ago."

Did I mention that we were busier than usual? I sit back in my chair with a heavy sigh. I'm annoyed.

She finally fishes out her ID and hands it to me. "Okay, here's my problem honey..."

Long story short, with an excruciating exercise in patience I was able to help the lady and was anxious to move on to the next person and get the lobby back to a reasonable, less frightening capacity.

As the lady is packing up her handbag I reach for the intercom to call the next person and I hear from within me... "Slow down, not so quick."

I knew that voice! Suddenly I was recharged. "Forgive me Lord."

I set the intercom down and faced the little lady. "Ma'am, is there anything else I can help you with today?"

She paused for a long moment before looking me in the eye and said, "Would you pray for me?"

"Well I can certainly do that. What's going on?"

She set the handbag back down. "I've got a lot of unpleasant business to take care of today and I don't feel well. Just pray that I will somehow get through this day."

My heart softened as I reached for her wrinkled little hand and we closed our eyes together for just a moment. I said a short prayer for her and then squeezed her hand. Not a word was said afterwards. We just smiled at each other and she gathered up her things and left the building.

What a special moment! I had almost missed it because of weariness and a bad attitude but by God's grace He had used me. Me!
A divine encounter scheduled by the Master of the universe. Now that is where it's at! It made me want to cry. It made we want to do it again.

"Number 225, window C please. How may WE help you today?"

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"
Galatians 5:14

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Knowing Truth

Often my prayers include a petition for God to open blind eyes.

Shake them by their spiritual shoulders Lord, cause them to see the truth!

Recently this request has turned into a plea of desperation, of almost begging the Lord to do something. It seems nothing happens. People continue on just the same. No, not the same... worse!

Why Lord? Why?

And He answered me.

They are not seeking the truth; therefore they will not find it.

My hands went to my heart. Those words were revelation but boy did they ever hurt. How could someone not want to know the truth? Do I want to know the truth?

The more I thought about it, the more apparent it became that there is a lot of seeking going on but it's not for the truth. It's for self. It's for philosophy, metaphysical discoveries, political winds or religious trends that will at long last deliver nirvana.

All the while real truth is out front jumping up and down, waving hands, calling. He is not wanted though. He is rejected. Yes, He. Jesus is THE TRUTH!

Search all we want but we will not find. We will not find until we seek Him. If we think that we can discern any truth whatsoever without Him we are sorely mistaken. We are fools.

I have a new prayer now.

Have mercy on us Lord. Soften our hearts enough to see the reality of our own foolishness. Destroy the idols within us that cause deception. Capture us and instruct us according to your ways and your will.

If you do not know Jesus but you want to then take a stroll down the Roman Road.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Matthew 5:6

Friday, October 17, 2008

Be Transformed!

I love to take a verse from the Bible that I know I should understand better and break it down with a word study. I decided to do Romans 12:2 which reads:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I took several words from the verse that I wanted clarification on. Below is a simple breakdown of my discoveries.

Conformed. Do not be conformed to this world. This word means to correspond in form or character, be similar, be in accord or agreement with. So that's a pretty easy one. Christians should be distinguishable from the world.

Transformed. But be transformed. The definitions for this word are fascinating and are: To change the appearance or form of, to change the nature, function or condition of or convert; to subject to the action of a transformer and, my favorite... to subject (a cell) to transformation!
The use of this word in relation to "renewing the mind" indicates that the word applies to the whole man. It is for this reason that I conclude that even though some of the definitions for this word seemingly apply to mathematics, electricity or genetics that they belong as one for a complete understanding into the depths of the word's powerful meaning to our body, spirit and soul. To subject our very cells to transformation! Wow-whee!

Renewing. By the renewing of your mind. To make new or as if new again; restore. To replenish, to bring into being again or reestablish. To become new again. To start over. Isn't that powerful?
Referencing Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, I find that the term here does not refer to the intellect alone but to the entire spirit and soul. He says, "Let it (the renewing) not be a mere external conformity, but let it have its seat in the spirit. All external changes, if the mind was not changed, would be hypocrisy. Christianity seeks to reign in the soul; and having its seat there, the external conduct and habits will be regulated accordingly."

Prove. That you may prove what is. To establish the truth or genuineness of. To give demonstration of by action.
How are we to know the will of God if we are not seeking with a renewed mind? Again, Barnes... "Having a disposition to obey Him, the mind will be prepared to understand His precepts. There will be a correspondence between the feelings of the heart and His will; a nice tact or taste, which will admit His laws and see the propriety and beauty of His commands."

That good and acceptable and perfect will of God. This part of the verse is talking about being able to ascertain or find out what is good and pleasing to God and to walk it out consistently in our daily lives.

I am always amazed at just how great the reward is when diligence is applied to seeking God's truth. There is no greater reward than that of getting to know Him better! Just look at the richness of this one verse. How privileged we are to have His words at our fingertips.

Action item - Read Ephesians 4 (entire chapter) for instruction on how to renew.

Father, abide with us and remove our appetites for vain and worldly things. We surrender to the transformations your will has designed for us. Reestablish us. Give us a thirst for obedience and a hunger for your Holy Word. May the refining of your children be a pleasing aroma delivered daily to your Holy throne. Gather us to you.

Albert Barnes' notes on the New Testament and other commentaries can be found at I also highly recommend the free Bible study software program called e-sword.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
I Corinthians 2:12

Friday, October 10, 2008

Now is the Time

Can you imagine being alive in Jesus' day? I see Him walking the shores of Galilee, playing with the neighborhood children, speaking to a crowd or eating at my house! Just think of being witness to the miracles He did. Think of His love.

I, of course, would have been one of His most faithful followers. I would have been fearless and full of joy all the time. I would have went out to me
et him crying Hosanna... The King of Israel! That is what I like to think but is it true? Would I have recognized Him as Messiah? Surely I would not have been one of those in Pilot's courtyard pumping my fist for the release of Barabbas!

There is no way of knowing what I would have done t
hen. All I can do is live in my own time. I believe I am living in last days and it is surreal to accept that fact. It is exciting and terrible at the same time. So what am I doing? What will I say if one day someone Imagines about last days and they ask me... "What was it like? What did you do?"

Selah (think about that)

Lord, quicken us to your will for this hour and equip us with the weapons of your warfare. May we keep your command to persevere. Come quickly!

Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
Psalm 63:4

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tanka Fun

Tanka is a Japanese style of poetry that's been around for about 1300 years! The name means "short song" and was originally intended to be chanted with music. In the traditional form it is composed using 31 syllables in 5 lines of 5,7,5,7,7. The third line is often pivitol, meaning it can act as an ending verse (of the first 3 lines) and a beginning verse (of the last 3 lines) at the same time. Since Japanese and English have little in common these traditional rules are not so binding for the English writer. It is the essence of the tradition that is sought after. I read somewhere once that Tanka is like Haiku with commentary. It is also compared to a verbal snapshot of a situation with clarification. Oh, and Tanka do not have titles unless the author has a string of them together to form a sequence.

I enjoy the traditional but especially like to write and read the experimental. Below is a traditional example without the strict Japanese syllable counts. The third verse is pivotal. It is a snapshot of a situation where the person thinks that he did not win his promotion because of his disability. He does not even consider the fact that it may be something as basic as the way he chooses to dress. Isn't that just like us?

He is disabled
smart and capable
not promoted again
he storms away
in that wrinkled shirt

The next example follows a similar pattern. The picture it captures may seem melodramatic but is in fact quite true.

I see Jesus
hanging on the cross
my crimes pouring from His flesh
I walk away
free and clean

The next three are experimental and I would probably be criticized by experts (of which I am not) for being too abstract. Still, I like them so they stay! The third line is not pivotal. The first describes a moment of trying to fathom the depths of how well God knows us and is inspired by Heb 4:12.

There is a place
between the bone and the marrow
that keeps the essence
of all the things
there are no words for

The second is a true incident captured in my memory forever. Words do something to us don't they?

You called me ugly
and I
will never
believe you didn't mean it

Lastly, this Tanka is a snap-realization that I am capable of falling in the immediate moment after betting my life that I never would!

I knew my own soul
when I anchored it on a flimsy stick
stretched it towards the flame
and watched it fall
straight away into the dirt

So there you have it. Why not try and put some of your own moments into a Tanka capsule? You can search out sources on the internet to get a better understanding. American Tanka is just one of my favorite places.

You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in your presence.
Acts 2:28

Photo: Pink Clematis, taken by my husband Warren in our back yard.