Monday, October 26, 2015

Patience, Grace, and Forgiveness

This week God worked hard to give me the wonderful gifts of patience, grace, and forgiveness. It would have been so much nicer if I had been the recipient of these extraordinary blessings (and I probably was many times in many ways) but the gifts he worked hard to give me this past week were not for me, but for me to give. I had a crash course in learning to be patient when I didn’t want to be, giving unsolicited grace when I wanted to prove how right I was instead, and letting go and moving on (forgiveness) to take hold of the even more wonderful gift that comes when God gets his way instead of me getting mine.

I love how God does that. When I am weak, his strength is evident and more than enough. And when I am stuck in a place I can’t get out of, all I need to do is give the wheel over to God and he drives me straight through it to the place he wants me to be. It sounds so simple doesn’t it? Actually it is. It’s just hard to do. If there is one thing I like, it’s being in control, knowing what is going on and having a plan in place to get me through a situation. The allusion of being in control is powerful and I feel safe but it’s not real. I’m not really in control even when I trick myself into thinking I am. God is in control and when I stop grabbing at the wheel, when I stop insisting on my way, he guides me through the hills and valleys and tunnels of life.

Receiving patience, grace and forgiveness is such a humbling and moving thing. But giving them is so much more so. It’s hard work, but so worth the effort of passing on these priceless gifts and watching them grow and spread throughout the world. Imagine a world filled and overflowing with patience, grace and forgiveness. God already has and that’s why he started the work towards spreading these incredible blessings through his people. And this week he gave me the opportunity to spread it just a little bit further.

That’s the thought I’m going to hold onto when the enemy and my own pride try to trick me into picking back up and holding onto things I’ve chosen to let go of, when my patience runs too thin to stand on and when judgement tries to overcome the grace already given.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Only God

Only God
Only you Lord God
Can give me what I need:
You give me purpose;
A reason to move,
to live,
to give.
You fill my heart
Your Spirit drives me
revives me,
inspires me.
It’s You I look to—
teach me to pray,
show me the way,
sustain me today
You are the righteousness I seek
My strength when I am weak
My joy from valley to peak
How fortunate I am
Your grace showers me.
It overflows in me,
And frees me
to love and serve Thee.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Faith and Left-Handed Knitting

When I was 10 years old, my mother went back to work for a craft company. She’d organize parties at people’s homes and after a hands-on craft lesson she would take orders for the craft kits sold by her company (much like the old Tupperware parties). She taught me how to do all the crafts and took me along with her to teach the craft at the party. My favorite part was when Mom started the sales pitch: “Now ladies, if my ten year old daughter can do you, you can.”

I learned and taught needlepoint, cross stitch, crewel (embroidery), rug hooking, macramé, and stain glass. I also learned crochet from my grandmother. Later on, I learned to sew and eventually was bitten by the quilting bug. I taught myself jewelry making, scrapbooking, and silk flower arranging as well. Now I’m teaching myself to knit. Being left-handed, I needed to find special instructions because like most everything else in the world, knitting is generally a right-handed craft. I’ve been able to find some basic left-handed instructions, but for the most part, I will have to reverse what I see and read in books and videos.

When I think about my faith, it has a lot in common with crafting. Faith is modeled and taught to us. We see and imitate from someone who has already learned the faith. And then braving the next step we take what we see and try to do it ourselves. As we are still learning the intricacies of how to be faithful, we are teaching others along the way. We are going to make mistakes. Even the most experienced crafter makes mistakes.

In any craft, you have to learn the basics first. With knitting it is how to hold the needles, how to get the yarn on the needle to start, the motions required to create the knit stitch and how to take the yarn off the needle properly so the work doesn’t unravel. In faith, we have to learn the basics first as well—Our Holy God and Creator loves us so much that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead so that through his grace and his action, we sinners could be forgiven and in relationship with him for eternity. When we turn to him in acknowledgement of this, he gives us his Spirit to guide, comfort, teach, and empower us. That’s it. That’s all you have to know to live a life of faith. That life of faith grows, deepens, expands and blossoms as we learn more and live more into our faith. Because we are sinful human beings we are going to make mistakes along the way. Sometimes in crafting, we have to make the mistake to learn exactly what not to do. We have to undo and redo and sometimes we have to start over before we learn how to create a specific stitch. At first it may seem unnatural, but in time, after repeating it over and over again, the individual aspects of living out of our faith will be automatic.

Now a thought about being left-handed—A right handed person will never understand the way I see and interact with the world. They can’t. The world is set up for being right-handed. There is no frame of reference. I’ve had to learn how to do everything I do in a world slanted for right-handed people and I’ve had to do it left-handed. Being a Christian in the world is kind of like being left-handed. We aren’t meant to be apart from the world but living in the world while still maintaining our faith and our Christianity. That’s just my two cents.

Monday, October 5, 2015

God of Love and Righteousness

“The death of Christ is the wisdom of God by which the love of God saves sinners from the wrath of God, and all the while upholds and demonstrates the righteousness of God.” - John Piper

 For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us! 2 Corinthians 5:21(TLB)

God of Love and Righteousness 
Only You know why Lord 
when You had no need of more 
You took upon Yourself the crafting 
of mankind – a largely thankless chore. 
For we do not give the praises 
that so rightfully belong to You. 
Nor do we faithfully live in gratitude 
for all the things You are or do. 
You created us in Your own likeness 
and breathed in us the Breath of Life 
You called us sons and daughters 
and talked and walked with us. 
You shone Your light upon us 
You provided our every need 
Yet in our pride and arrogance 
we renounced Your Divinity. 
Sinful, we hid from Your holiness 
when we should’ve fallen to our knees. 
Now You, the Lord, had a quandary – 
What’s a holy righteous God to do 
when the object of Your affection 
chooses sin and death 
over Your perfection? 
How can Your love allow us 
to answer for our crimes – to die? 
How can Your righteousness, 
without our deaths, be satisfied? 
Oh what a predicament You found Yourself in 
and what were You to do? 
You stayed Your hand of justice 
just for a little while. 
Long enough to arrange 
for Your miraculous arrival. 
In human flesh, yet sinless 
You came into this world You made 
and taught us to love and seek Your way, 
to rely upon Your mercy. 
You urged us all to repentance 
to receive forgiveness in Your Name. 
Then gallantly You took our place in death 
to satisfy Your righteousness. 
But death can’t hold the great I Am 
and victoriously You rose to claim 
those who rely upon Your sacrifice 
to take away their sin and shame, 
to restore in them Your holiness. 
You’ve redeemed Your wayward children 
O glorious God of love and righteousness.