Friday, October 29, 2010

Psalm 62

Only God can save me,
   and I calmly wait for him.  
 God alone is the mighty rock 
that keeps me safe
   and the fortress
   where I am secure. 

    I feel like a shaky fence
   or a sagging wall.
   How long will all of you
   attack and assault me?
   You want to bring me down
   from my place of honor.
   You love to tell lies,
   and when your words are kind,
   hatred hides in your heart. 

  Only God gives inward peace,
   and I depend on him.
  God alone is the mighty rock
   that keeps me safe,
   and he is the fortress
   where I feel secure.
   God saves me and honors me.
   He is that mighty rock
   where I find safety. 

 Trust God, my friends,
   and always tell him
   each one of your concerns.
   God is our place of safety. 

    We humans are only a breath;
   none of us are truly great.
   All of us together weigh less
   than a puff of air.
   Don't trust in violence
   or depend on dishonesty
   or rely on great wealth.

  I heard God say two things:
   "I am powerful,
 and I am very kind."
   The Lord rewards each of us
   according to what we do. 

Psalm 62 cev

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

THIS I call to mind

Just thinking of my troubles
and my lonely wandering
makes me miserable.
That's all I ever think about,
and I am depressed.

Lamentations 3:19-20 cev

I rehearse it over and over—
my troubles
my complaints
the worries run circles.

Darkness falls.

Yes, it is bad.
It is all I see.

I am sinking.

But there's one other thing I remember,
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: 

Lamentations 3:21 msg

In the midst of the 
whirling of my mind
I stop and choose to 
look up.

The LORD's kindness never fails!
   If He had not been merciful,
   we would have been destroyed. 
 The LORD can always be trusted
   to show mercy each morning.
    Deep in my heart I say,
   "The LORD is all I need;
   I can depend on him!"

Lamentations 3:22-24 cev 

Shhhh! Quiet down, you crazy thoughts!
Remember what is true!

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
   quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
   to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take,
   go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
   Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
   The "worst" is never the worst. 

Lamentations 3:25-30 msg

Instead, we should think
   about the way we are living,
   and turn back to the LORD.
   When we lift our hands
   in prayer to God in heaven,
   we should offer him our hearts 

Lamentations 3:40-41 cev

From the bottom of the pit,
I prayed to you, LORD.
I begged you to listen.
"Help!" I shouted. "Save me!"
You answered my prayer
and came when I was in need.
   You told me, "Don't worry!"
You rescued me
and saved my life.
You saw them abuse me, LORD,
so make things right.

Lamentations 3:55-59 cev

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lift High Your Hands

"Your prophets courted you with sweet talk.
They didn't face you with your sin so that you could repent.
Their sermons were all wishful thinking, deceptive illusions."

"God did carry out, item by item, exactly what He said He'd do. 
He always said He's do this.
Now He's done it — torn the place down.
He's let your enemies walk all over you,
declared them world champions!"

Lamentations 2: 14, 17 msg

You are faithful.

You do what You say You will do.
I can trust You, 
because you never change.

You are pure and holy.

You cannot tolerate sin.

Ignoring it, does not work,
entertaining it,
reveling in it,
giving sin free reign destroys.

Serpentine tongues 
paint pretty pie in the sky pictures
turning my head
teasing me with promises of pleasure,
fulfillment, freedom.

You are the Source of Truth.
Your way is narrow,
leading me up to You.

"Give out heart-cries to the Master, dear repentant Zion.
Let the tears roll like a river, day and night,
and keep at it — no time outs.
Keep those tears flowing!"

"As each night watch begins, get up and cry out in prayer.
Pour your heart out face to face with the Master.
Lift high your hands. 
Beg for the lives of your children
who are starving to death out in the streets."

Lamentations 2:18-19 msg

You call me to come.

Turning to You 
away from my sin
I leave my filthy rags beind.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Learning from God-of-the-Angel-Armies

Listen to me now.
   Give me your closest attention.
Do farmers plow and plow and do nothing but plow?
   Or harrow and harrow and do nothing but harrow?
After they've prepared the ground, don't they plant?
   Don't they scatter dill and spread cumin,
Plant wheat and barley in the fields
   and raspberries along the borders?
They know exactly what to do and when to do it.
   Their God is their teacher.
And at the harvest, the delicate herbs and spices,
   the dill and cumin, are treated delicately.
On the other hand, wheat is threshed and milled, but still not endlessly.
   The farmer knows how to treat each kind of grain.
He's learned it all from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
   who knows everything about when and how and where. 

Isaiah 28:23-29 msg

The ground You have given me to work
is not mere soil, of earth — 
the ground I work is fleshy,
found deep within the hearts 
of these precious ones You have given me.

You have given me these hearts
to plow and break up,
to sow and to tend,
and to one day see a harvest.

Each heart is home to different seed.
Each needs different care.

Some must be treated with such tender, tender care.
Sheltered in the shade, until they are ready 
to face the sun.

Others are more hardy, 
growing quickly, without much effort,
ready to sprout up and thrive in the sun. 

Each soil, each seed needs tending,
needs water, food, light.
Teach me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
Show me how to care for each heart,
Gardener of Eden.
Thank You that You know 
everything about 
when and how and where.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Learning to Appreciate the Gift of Weakness

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, 
and so I wouldn't get a big head, 
I was given the gift of a handicap 
to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. 
Satan's angel did his best to get me down; 
what he in fact did was push me to my knees. 
No danger then of walking around high and mighty! 
At first I didn't think of it as a gift, 
and begged God to remove it. 
Three times I did that, and then he told me,

   My grace is enough; it's all you need.
   My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. 
I quit focusing on the handicap 
and began appreciating the gift. 
It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. 
Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, 
these limitations that cut me down to size—
abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. 
I just let Christ take over! 
And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 msg 

Every day bits of it is revealed.
Some days more than others.

Too often I fight it.
I don't want it.

As I come before You
asking You to take it from me,
You whisper a sweet secret to my heart.

This is how your life can have more of Me.

This is a gift. 

This ties your heart to mine in a way
nothing else can.

Embrace weakness. 

Embrace me.

Your weakness draws you to me,
your guard drops down
allowing me to work —
to be strong in you.

Come to Me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Capturing Thoughts

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 
We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, 
to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning 
and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle 
that keeps people from knowing God. 
We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 nlt 

They come trickling in,
day after day.


Who are they from?

Are they true?

Whose voice am I listening to?

Even if I do not engage them,
even when I shoo them off,
the lies do damage.

Wearing down the truth, belief, trust —
just like water on a rock.

This is a battle.
If I choose to sit on the sidelines,
damage is done. 
Freedom is lost, bit by bit.

I have been given weapons to fight —
not as the world fights —
but to battle for truth.

The battle is against the lies.

Each and every thought that is a lie
must be taken captive.

For the truth sets me free.

And that about wraps it up. 
God is strong, and he wants you strong. 
So take everything the Master has set out for you, 
well-made weapons of the best materials. 
And put them to use so you will be able to stand up 
to everything the Devil throws your way. 
This is no afternoon athletic contest 
that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. 
This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight 
to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. 
 Be prepared. You're up against far more 
than you can handle on your own. 
Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, 
so that when it's all over but the shouting 
you'll still be on your feet. 
Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, 
and salvation are more than words. 
Learn how to apply them. 
You'll need them throughout your life. 
God's Word is an indispensable weapon. 
In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. 
Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. 
Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up 
so that no one falls behind or drops out. 

Ephesians 6:10-18 msg

"If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, 
you are my disciples for sure. 
Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, 
and the truth will free you." 

John 8:32 msg

Friday, October 15, 2010

Giving Myself Unreservedly

The trial exposed their true colors:
They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor.
The pressure triggered something totally unexpected:
an outpouring of pure and generous gifts.
I was there and saw it for myself. 
They gave offerings of whatever they could —
far more than they could afford! —
pleading for the privilege of helping out
in the relief of poor Christians.

This was totally spontaneous, entirely their
own idea, and caught us completely off guard.
What explains it was that they had first 
given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. 
The other giving simply flowed out of the 
purposes of God working in their lives.

2 Corinthians 8:3-5 msg

When a believer gives all they have
to God, they are putting their full trust in Him.

Whatever He asks, they do
knowing full well that they can trust Him.

He will provide all that we need.




Whatever we need to fulfill the task, 
He will provide.

God is my Father, 
I know that He loves me,
and because He loves me,
I know that I can trust Him.

Lord, help me to always live and respond
in the knowledge of Your love; 
being willing to quickly obey all that You ask me 
to do, knowing that because You love me,
I can trust You.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Driven by Distress

"Now I am glad — not that you were upset, 
but that you were jarred into turning things around.
You let the distress bring you to God, 
not drive you from Him.
The result was all gain, no loss."

2 Corinthians 7:9 msg

"Distress that drives to God does that.
It turns us around.
It gets us back in the way of salvation.
We never regret that kind of pain."

2 Corinthians 7:10 msg

Teach me to always run 
to You.

Pain, discomfort, discontent
drives me to move.

I choose where I go.

Do I believe the lies,
and blame You?
Do I harden my heart,
and run away from You,
deepening the gaping wounds?


Do I listen to the whispers of truth,
 and choose to remember what You have done,
Do I walk into the light,
and let Your arms wrap around me,
soothing my wounds,
healing my hurts?

Running to You never brings regret.

You take what is broken 
and make something new.

And now, isn't it wonderful
all the ways in which this distress
has goaded you closer to God?
You're more alive, more concerned,
more sensitive, more reverent, more human,
more passionate, more responsible.
Looked at from any angle,
you've come out of this with purity of heart.

2 Corinthians 7:11 msg

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wide-Open, Spacious Life

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long 
for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. 
We didn't fence you in. 
The smallness you feel comes from within you. 
Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. 
I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. 
Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! 

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 msg

It starts deep within.

A feeling.

A dark whisper.

Tightening, clenching,
closing up, 
drawing me within.

Eyes that see only me,
ears hear only despair,
mouth spouts complaints.

So much life
dances all around me,
before me,
within me.

You are here.
You are longing for me to call to You.

You have offered Your hand.
I lift mine to Yours.

Yes, I will join You in the dance.

"Companions as we in this work with you,
we beg you, please don't squander one bit
of this marvelous life God has given us.
God reminds us,
'I heard your call in the nick of time;
the day you needed me, 
I was there to help.'
Well, now is the right time to listen, 
the day to be helped."

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 msg

God himself put it this way:

   "I'll live in them, move into them;
      I'll be their God and they'll be my people.
   So leave the corruption and compromise;
      leave it for good," says God.
   "Don't link up with those who will pollute you.
      I want you all for myself.
   I'll be a Father to you;
      you'll be sons and daughters to me."
   The Word of the Master, God. 

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 msg

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Keeping Going

This morning, I woke up and just felt off.

I had a quiet house, I had time, 
I had my Bible, my ipod...
all the usual things in place 
for my time with the Lord. 

But I just felt so unable.

I went through the motions
and had an OK quiet time.
But as I read from 2 Corinthians 5
nothing was coming off the page,
I just wasn't hearing anything.

Later, I was out and had a few minutes
so I pulled up the same passage on my ipod.

As I read, I realized, just how off I had been earlier.

And verses were jumping out,
speaking to my heart and even making me laugh.

Later, in the van, I was heading back home
and Chris Fabry was on the radio.
He was talking about God's love for us.

Ever so quietly I felt God whisper to me
"I love you, Christa.
I knew you were feeling off this morning.
I want you to be real with me when you come before me.
You don't have to go through the motions.
Just come and be with me,
I'll meet you where you are."

Oh how He loves me!

"That's why we live with such good cheer. 
You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet!
Cramped conditions here don't get us down. 
They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead.
It's what we trust in but don't see that keeps us going."

2 Corinthians 5:6-7 msg

These verses are such a gift from Him!

You see, I live in a small house.
A really, small house.

With 6 other people.

I had to laugh when I read this with my fresh eyes.

God knows that I am usually content
with what He has given us,
but there are moments and sometimes days
when I give in to grumbling
and let it get me down.

But this world is not the end!
This little house, is not all I have.

I have a home, an eternal home,
wide, open space,
room to spread out and wave my arms in worship.

As Larry Norman said,
"This world is not my home, I'm just passing through."
Once again, I am reminded that
when I am feeling "off",
when I am letting things get me down,
my focus needs to change.

I need to look up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Unadorned Clay Pots of Our Ordinary Lives

"Remember, our Message is not about ourselves,
we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master.
All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. 
It started when God said, 'Light up the darkness!' 
and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood
God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful."

2 Corinthians 4:5-6 msg

"If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness.
We carry this precious Message around in 
the  unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.
That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's
incomparable power with us.
As it is, there's not much chance of that."

2 Corinthians 4:7 msg

Shine through, Lord! 

Don't let us miss Your brightness!

Thank You that You use
my ordinary, walking around,
in and out, daily life.

Shine through my cracks Lord,
so that all those around will see You in me.

Help me to remember that my 
ordinary life is a vessel
for Your immense and incomparable power.

"we're not sure what to do, 
but we know that 
God knows what to do."

2 Corinthians 4:8 msg

I am weak,
but You are strong!

"So we're not giving up. How could we!
Even though on the outside it often looks like 
things are falling apart on us,
on the inside, where God is making new life,
not a day goes by without His unfolding grace.
These hard times are small potatoes compared 
to the coming good times, the lavish celebration 
prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye.
The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.
But the things we can't see now 
will last forever."

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 msg

Lord, help me to see as You see.
You look not on the outward appearance
but what is going on inside.

So often, I am ready to give up.
It can seem so hard.

Help me to remember that 
You do Your best work deep down
on the inside where no one else can see.

Help me to grasp on to the moments of 
unfolding grace that You cause daily in my life.

You are here!
You are making new life.

Help me to press on,
looking forward to what is to come.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Turn to Face God

"Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, 
God removes the veil and there they are  — face to face! 
They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, 
not a piece of chiseled stone. 
And when God is personally present, a living Spirit
that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. 
We're free of it! All of us! 
Nothing between us and God
our faces shining with the brightness of His face
And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, 
our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful 
as God enters our lives and we become like Him."

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 msg

The weight of it all 
pulls down.

death reigns.

Glimpses of light
dance over my shoulder.

Your voice
whispers my name.

Come to Me.

You are there —
fully there —
shining in all Your glory.

You are alive! 
You are here!

Nothing comes between us. 

Walking with You.
More of You in me
 shining out.

Beauty comes from 
the Spirit within.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Suffering: An Opportunity for Praise?

Suffering will come.

"...the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives."
2 Corinthians 1: 5 niv

Comfort will come.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles..."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 niv

Our suffering helps 
us comfort others.

"...He brings us alongside someone else who is going 
through hard times so that we can be there for that person 
just as God was there for us."
2 Corinthians 1:4 msg

Suffering—the best thing?

"It was so bad we didn't think we were going to make it.
We felt like we'd been sent to death row, that it was all 
over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that 
could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength
or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally —
not a bad idea since He's the God who raises the dead!
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 msg

Suffering brings rescue.

"And He did it, rescued us from certain doom.
And He'll do it again, rescuing us as 
many times as we need rescuing."
2 Corinthians 1:10 msg


Suffering opens up prayer.

"You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation."
2 Corinthians 1:11 msg

Suffering leads to praise...

"I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for 
God's deliverance of us, a resuce in which 
your prayers played such a crucial part.'
2 Corinthians 1:11 msg

when we stay focused on Him.

"Now that the worst is over, we're pleased we can report
that we've come out of this with conscience and faith intact,
and can face the world — and even more importantly,
face you with our heads held high.
But it wasn't any fancy footwork on our part.
It was God who kept us focused on Him, uncompromised. 
2 Corinthians 1:12 msg

Life has Come!

Morning light pierces through the darkest night.
Rays of warmth wrapping around cold, stony hardness —
melting away frozen deadness.
Thick rock crumbles, softens.
Moist earth accepts seeds of new life.
Brilliant green tendrils push forth
seeking the Son.
Curly fingers of life seek upward
always upward

Life has come!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Make Room

"Make room for the Master!
Our Master Jesus has His arms
wide open for you."

1 Corinthians 16:23 msg

"Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, 
fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives,
filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit,
will brim over with hope!"

Romans 15:13 msg

Remove all that fills
but is not You.

What flows over
from my nature burns,
scalding, scorching those in the path.

Cleanse me, Lord.

Create in me Life,




You are my Hope.

You give me Life.

Fill me to overflowing.

Spread Your Hope and Life
to those around me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Awaken to the Holiness of LIfe • 1 Corinthians 15

"But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am.
And I'm not about to let this grace go to waste."

(vs. 10)

"If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration 
for a few short years, we're a pretty sorry lot. 
But the truth is that Christ has been raised up,
the first in a long legacy of those who 
are going to leave the cemeteries."

(vs. 19 - 20)

"There is a nice symmetry in this:
Death initially came by a man,
and resurrection from death came by a man.
Everybody dies in Adam;
everybody comes alive in Christ."

(vs. 21 - 22)

"It's resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection,
that undergirds  what I do and say, the way I live."

(vs. 32)

"Think straight. Awaken to the holiness of life."

(vs. 34)

"You plant a 'dead' seed; soon there is a flourishing plant.
There is no visual likeness between seed and plant.
You could never guess what a tomato would 
look like by looking at a tomato seed.
What we plant in the soil and what grows out if it
don't look anything alike. 
The dead body that we bury in the ground
and the resurrection body that comes 
from it will be dramatically different.

(vs. 36-38)

"This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant
is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help
in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body —
but only if you keep in mind that when we're raised,
we're raised for good, alive forever!"

(vs. 42)

"I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, 
earthy lives don't in themselves lead us by 
their very nature into the kingdom of God. 
Their very 'nature' is to die, 
so how could they 'naturally' end up 
in the Life kingdom?"

(vs. 50)

"But let me tell you something wonderful,
a mystery I'll probably never fully understand.
We're not all going to die —
but we are all going to be changed.
You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet,
and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes —
it's over.
On signal from that trumpet from heaven, 
the dead will be up and out of their graves,
beyond reach of death, never to die again.
At the same moment and in the same way,
we'll all be changed. 

(vs. 51-52)

"In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen;
everything perishable taken off the shelves and 
replaced by the imperishable,
this mortal replaced by the immortal.
Then the saying will come true:
'Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?'"

(vs. 53-55)

"With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends,
stand your ground. And don't hold back.
Throw yourselves into the work of the Master,
confident that nothing you do for Him 
is a wast of time or effort."

(vs. 58)