Small Things

More great quotes from my journals.  All the small things mentioned below seem small, but end up being very big and powerful–wisdom, sleep, prayer, love, worship.  Mountains look tiny until you get up close enough to climb them.  It all depends upon your perspective.

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.  Proverbs 3:13-15 (ESV)

Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God…I conclude that God made sleep as a continual reminder that we should not be anxious but should rest in Him.  — John Piper

The restraint of God’s discipline (Eph. 6:4), the demonstration of God’s love (Col. 3:21), and the power of prayer (Job 1:5), God has ordained, regularly and normally, to work through these means for the salvation of the children of believers.  For this Chris died.  Christian parents honor the blood of Jesus when they follow His ways for the sake of their children.  — John Piper

We can do no great things, only small things with great love.  — Mother Teresa

Worship is the act of magnifying God.  Enlarging our vision of Him.  Stepping into the cockpit to see where He sits and observe how He works.  Of course, His size doesn’t change, but our perception of Him does.  As we draw nearer, He seems larger.  Isn’t that what we need?  A big view of God?  — Max Lucado, Grace for the Moment

 

 

 

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Worship

This week I’m sharing quotes from my Word of the Year–“Worship.”  We don’t worship God because He needs it or requires it, but because He deserves it.  I can say for a fact that He is real; I’ve felt immediate healing at least twice in my life; He speaks to me daily not only through His Word but through many other sources, such as a book, a friend or an unexpected message of some type.  In other words, I’ve experienced Him; He’s real and trustworthy.  He’s worthy of our worship:

It is the heart that must trust and love and worship and obey…The Christian needs ever, when he has studied or heard God’s word, to cease from his thoughts, to put no trust in them, and to waken up his heart to open itself before God, and seek the living fellowship with Him.  –Andrew Murray, How Great Is Our God, 3/7

Worship is essentially a way of honoring God.  It means recognizing His honor and feeling the worth of it and ascribing it to Him in all the ways appropriate to His character.  Worship is a way of gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth.  The reason for saying gladly is that even the mountains and trees reflect back to God the radiance of His worth:  “Praise the LORD from the earth…mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars.”  (Psalm 148:7,9 ESV).  Yet this reflection of God’s glory in nature is not conscious.  The mountains and hills do not willingly worship.  In all the earth, only humans have this unique capacity.  –John Piper, How Great is Our God, 4/23

When God spoke out of heaven to our Lord, self-centered men who heard it explained it by natural causes:  they said “It thundered”  (John 12:29).  The believing man does not claim to understand.  He falls to his knees and whispers, “God.”  The man of earth kneels also, but not to worship.  He kneels to examine, to search, to find the cause and the how of things.  –A. W. Tozer, How Great is Our God, 7/7

Meet Lydia.  She was a city girl, a salesperson.  A homeowner with enough room to house a host of people.  Yet her professional life was balanced by the priorities of her spiritual life.  She worshiped God.  — Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pg. 358

The Quest is Over

I love these words from John Piper about the all-satisfying Treasure and the end of a quest!

Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  –Hebrews 11:6 [ESV]

The faith that pleases God is a confidence that God will reward us when we come to Him.  The reward we long for is the glory of God Himself and the perfected companionship of Christ.  We will sell everything to have the treasure of Christ Himself.

So the faith that pleases God is the assurance that when we turn to Him, we will find the all-satisfying Treasure.  We will find our heart’s eternal delight.  But this implies that something has happened in our hearts before the act of faith.  It implies that beneath and behind the act of faith that pleases God, a new taste has been created–a taste for the glory of God and the beauty of Christ.  Behold, a joy has been born!

Once we had no delight in God, and Christ was just a vague historical figure.  We enjoyed many things…but not God.  He was an idea–even a good one–and a topic for discussion; but He was not a treasure of delight.

Then something miraculous happened.  It was like the opening of the eyes of the blind during the golden dawn.  First the stunned silence before the unspeakable beauty of holiness.  Then the shock and terror that we had actually loved the darkness.  Then the settling stillness of joy that this is the soul’s end.  The quest is over.  We would give anything if we might be granted to live in the presence of this glory forever and ever.

And then, faith–the confidence that Christ has made a way for me, a sinner, to live in His glorious fellowship forever, the confidence that if I come to God through Christ, He will give me the desire of my heart to share His holiness and behold His glory.

But before the confidence comes the craving.  Before the decision comes the delight.  Before the trust comes the discovery of Treasure.  — John Piper, in Desiring God, quoted in How Great is Our God, 3/20

I cannot begin to tell you how very true this is in my life.  Once I discovered that it wasn’t about me being good enough for God, I experienced the greatest joy, freedom, relief and confidence.  It’s all about Him, not about us.  He’s my true joy and treasure, through and through!  Though I appreciate them, my treasure and hope is not in a church, or a favorite speaker, my own good works or efforts, not in Heaven or Earth.  He is real and is my greatest Treasure.  He made it possible for me to come to Him, not by being an example but by living that perfect life for me and dying in my place.  Now I get to daily experience this very special and personal relationship found only in Him!

2016 Word

Compassion has always encouraged us to choose a “Word of the Year” to think about throughout the year.  It’s always meant a lot to me. My “Word of the Year” for 2016 – the word is “Worship.” I came across this word recently and it has stayed with me. Here are some of the quotes that have already been written in my journal for the year:

With seven congregations [in the book of Revelation] barraged by violence from without and infiltrated by lies from within, John can think of nothing better than to call them to worship…His recurrent representations of worship aren’t pious, escapist factions; they are theological convictions. The conviction is that God’s action, not the world’s action, is what we want to be involved in. The world isn’t the context for dealing with God. God is the context for dealing with the world. And so, in a turbulent world where we’re constantly getting disoriented, worship is the way to get reoriented. – Eugene H, Peterson, Conversations, pg. 1970

I’m convinced that as we worship God for his word, his works, and his worthiness, the blazing center of our praise will always be the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus…In the Book of Revelation, worship is directed not only to the One on the throne, but to the Lamb who was slain. If the worshipers of heaven never get over the cross, neither should we.

–Bob Kauflin (as quoted on John Piper’s “Desiring God” website recently)

The Tree of Life was planted on each side of the River, producing twelve kinds of fruit, a ripe fruit each month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations. Never again will anything be cursed. The Throne of God and of the Lamb is at the center. His servants will offer God service—worshiping, they’ll look on his face, their foreheads mirroring God. – Rev. 22:1-4 (MSG)

In my next post I’ll tell about a humorous way God spoke to me about worship recently.

Sleep In Heavenly Peace

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Why did God design sleep and rest?  Perhaps God works best at night, when we’re sleeping.  Do you recall when the Hebrew day begins?  At dusk, when the sun is going down, not in the morning when it is coming up, as we think of a new day.  

Why?  Because God wants His people to remember that before we wake up, He is already working.  As Eugene H. Peterson puts it in Living the Message:

The Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace.  We go to sleep, and God begins his work.  As we sleep he develops his covenant.  We wake and are called out to participate in God’s creative action.  We respond in faith, in work.  But always grace is previous.  Grace is primary.  We wake into a world we didn’t make, into a salvation we didn’t earn.  [Living the Message, pg. 91-92]

Further, Peterson mentions an “enormous gong” struck every seventh day, when we rest on the Sabbath — more reminders that we are not the ones in charge.  “There are some things that can be accomplished, even by God, only in a state of rest,” he says.  So why all this hustle and bustle, rushing about, and trying to bless others or “do” ministry?  We only need to join God in what He is already doing , before we even wake up.  

I love how John Piper puts it:

Why did God design us to need sleep?  We sleep a third of our lives.  Just think of it:  a third of our lives spent like dead men…Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God…Once a day God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness.  The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable.  To cure us of this disease, God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day.  How humiliating to the self-made corporate executive that he has to give up all control and become as limp as a suckling infant every day.  Sleep is a parable that God is God and we are mere men.  God handles the world quite nicely while a hemisphere sleeps…He is not nearly so impressed with our late nights and early mornings as he is with the peaceful trust that casts all anxieties on him and sleeps.        [Taste and See, #113]

Isn’t it amazing to think about?  What a blessing to cast all our cares upon him and — sleep!

This is what I love about children.  They can sleep anywhere, anytime.  They don’t worry about what needs to be done while they’re sleeping.  They don’t fret about “to do” lists or projects that don’t have enough hours in a day to complete.  

img_3585Can you imagine a child calmly dropping off to sleep, in great need and want, but resting nevertheless?  Can you imagine at the same time, a sponsor choosing that child and signing up to provide for him?  God has spiritually awakened a sponsor on behalf of a sleeping child on the other side of the world.  It happens all the time.  Why don’t you join us this Christmas, and sponsor a child in need?

Compassion Sunday — Click This

Here are some of the best clicks lately, in my opinion:

Called and Chosen — this is a new blog that I look forward to reading regularly!

Wondering which country to choose in sponsoring a child?  Take this fun quiz!

Rivers of Hope — The Haitian Hurricane Crisis

Three children and three dolls!

Girls Just Want to Have Fun — Jill shares her heart with us

Ever heard of Courtyard Christians?  Check out this excellent post!

John Piper writes about Child Slavery in Haiti

I’ve been interviewed!  Watch this blog for future interviews of Compassion Advocates.

I’ve Been “Blain Brogging” Lately

Blain Brogging — that’s a great (borrowed) phrase from David Ker to describe what my very tired brain was doing in the 63 hours that I was trying to fly home from Alaska (See Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

I’d been trying to get on a standby flight for more than 25 hours, and was following my list of flights out of Anchorage in chronological order, just trying to get anywhere in the “lower 48.”  What was the next flight option?  Phoenix, Arizona!  Amazing.  That’s where our oldest son, Jeremy lives.  Now I was pretty sure this was the next blessing God had for me, and I was right (from my viewpoint, a much better option than Las Vegas, which would’ve been next on the list).

Sure enough, I finally flew out of Anchorage on the 12:30 am flight and landed in Phoenix at 7:00 am, with very little sleep due to a baby that cried the entire 6 hours (as I prayed for strength for the Mother).  Guess who was on the flight with us?  Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor!  I spoke to her briefly and told her that my husband is an Attorney and Judge in Wyoming.  She squeezed my hand, patted my shoulder and spoke to me a short time. I don’t know if I was over-emotionalizing things at this point in my fatigue, but for me, seeing her on board told me that Justice would prevail — God would make things right; He is always Good, Just and Present!  He balances everything out in our lives, between trials and blessings, questions and answers, wrongs and rights, revelation and mystery.

After arriving in Phoenix, getting some breakfast, checking e-mail and securing a hotel and rental car, I drove to Jeremy’s new home, which is in a community south of Phoenix about 30 minutes.  We had a wonderful time together — great meals, a tour of the new home he is renting, a drive around town to see all the sights, including the school where he will be teaching music classes.  We also shared lots of laughter, hugs and photos.  And I thought, Well, well — so this was the surprise God had in store for me, and the reason I couldn’t get out on any of the six previous flights.  Icing on the cake.

Last of all, we shared a great mealtime at a restaurant and experienced a wonderful, deep discussion about the new events in his life, about God, about weather patterns (such as the monsoon that had just landed in Phoenix a couple days before), about politics and family. We were both so touched by this time that God had given us together, especially in conversation.  Then I returned to Phoenix for a motel room near the airport.

In keeping with the previous three days, my devotions on the morning of my flight out of Phoenix to Denver were perfect.  One of the things Jeremy had mentioned to me was the various names of God, and this is exactly what my devotion was about:  “It is remarkable how many names and titles are associated with Jesus Christ (meaning ‘anointed Savior’) in the first chapter of John’s gospel” (Days of Praise, August 31, 2008).  It then mentioned various names of Jesus — “the true Light,” “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” “the Lord,” “the Lamb of God,” “the Son of God,” “Master,” “Messiah,” “Jesus of Nazareth,” “King of Israel,” “the Son of Man” and “The Word.”  Why only names of Jesus?  “He is always the One who reveals, speaks for, manifests, explains and incarnates the Heavenly Father.” I agree, although I love the Old Testament names of God as well — which we also spoke about the night before — “Yahweh,” “El Shaddai,” “Jehovah-Rophe” and others.  Each of these also point to Jesus, as does every story in the Old Testament.

It’s interesting that along the way I was also reading the novel The Shack, by William P. Young, which has a wonderful depiction of the Lord in a way that bridges gender, race and color — something Jeremy and I had also talked about the night before, previous to the morning’s reading when I reached the particular surprise chapter which reveals the start of an amazing story of God.

What was in my daily devotional from John Piper?  The title was “What Did Christ Purchase for Your Children with His Blood? (#124 in his book Taste and See).  He asks several questions, such as “Did the blood of Christ not unite families across generations?” and “Do all the children of believers love God and keep covenant with him by faith in Christ?”  and “Did the blood of Christ purchase no privileges for the children of believers?”  Then he explains:  “Yes.  Christ did purchase privileges for the children of believers.  But he did not guarantee their salvation…a parent’s faith does not secure a child’s…A Christian parent may face this choice:  allegiance to Christ or allegiance to child?  But I say again, yes, Christ did purchase privileges for the children of believers…There is a good that comes to the children of believers…This ‘good’ is not the guarantee of faith, but the gift of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 6:6-7), the restraint of God’s discipline (Ephesians 6:4), the demonstration of God’s love (Colossians 3:21), and the power of prayer (Job 1:5)…Christian parents honor the blood of Jesus when they follow his ways for the sake of their children.”

I think it goes both ways — I am definitely blessed by the faith of our children.  I gain new truths through their struggles, questions and failings as well as from the insights, joys and victories they share with us.  I was blessed to have met up with Chris in Alaska, Jeremy in Arizona (unexpectedly) and will soon have time again with Sarah in Kansas.

Did I have any trouble getting on flights from Phoenix to Denver and on to Wyoming?  Not one bit — in fact, both flights had 20+ seats available on them!  I realized the reason the flights out of Anchorage had been so full was because of all the men traveling to and from Alaska for fishing trips, as well as the final summer cruise passengers.  My flight into Wyoming had nothing but men on it (other than the flight attendant and me) — about a dozen men — and every one of them were arriving in Wyoming for the hunting season.  I couldn’t help but think, It’s the rutting season, for man and beast. When I walked in the house, my husband was sitting in front of the TV watching football (which is what Jeremy was doing when I arrived at his house, and what Chris was doing when I called him).  The “rutting season” is a time when men (and yes — women) participate in all the traditionally male/macho activities of the season — fishing, hunting, watching football, etc. — but that will be the subject of another story in the near future.  In the meantime, I had an opportunity to hop on the mortorcycle for a nice afternoon ride with my husband.  I wasn’t sure if I could even hold on well enough in my exhausted state, but sure didn’t want to miss the opportunity to enjoy a pleasant afternoon together.  I will post a conclusion to the story of my return from Alaska later.