Monday, September 29, 2014

Past the brazen altars.....

Past the brazen altars…

Some thoughts as I worshipped this Sunday:

“Take me past the outer courts, into the Holy Place, past the brazen alters…Lord, I want to see your face.” (Take me in by Petra and Kutless)

Past the brazen alters? Wait, can I just walk past them? I’ve been through the outer courts, on the outside hoping to meet God.  All along, even without knowing, I desired that Holy Place.  To see the place where God dwells, to sense his presence.  And since the brazen altars are on my route, they must be part of my journey there. But what do you offer at an altar?

Clearly, in reading through the Old Testament, you often read of goats, sheep, oxen, doves, etc being continually offered daily. Sometimes these offerings were in the thousands! (King Solomon’s dedication of the temple 1 Kings 8:63)  The outer courts were reserved for Gentiles and women. The men would enter in to present the sacrifices to the priests.  Access to the Lord’s presence was very restricted….until Jesus came andripped open the curtain to the temple.  Though Jesus paid the final, complete sacrifice, I still keep seeing this word ‘sacrifice’ through my reading.

“Let us offer, through, Jesus a sacrifice of praise….”

“offer your bodies as living sacrifices…”

“Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”

“a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God…”

What do I offer? I confess….often my life has that noticeable stench like rotten tomatoes surrounded by fruit flies.  Lord, make it smell sweet!  Take the striving, doing, pushing, and replace it with your beauty. Take the pressure, the worry, the trying to be good enough, and replace it with your sweet smelling presence. As I spend time in your fragrant presence, may it rub off on me.

To just be…in you. To be in you…..while canning, freezing greens, making bread, writing lesson plans, collaborating with co-teachers, and doing laundry. To just be, not do. To just be..with people. To smell of you when talking with those you created.

“So, I give my life, a sacrifice of praise. Father, take my heart, every part today.” (Wickham)

Monday, September 1, 2014

A life page....every two pages.

You know those books you read that make you rethink your whole life every two pages? Those kind that make you feel like nothing you do is even close to what you should be doing? That you're not even a follower of Jesus? That if your life didn't change every time you picked up that book, you would be like the person in the book of James who looked in a mirror, saw the mess she was, and just forgot about it.
That's how I feel when I read anything by K.P. Yohannan or his wife Gisela. They are part of my favorite organization in the world Gospel for Asia. I love how they use native missionaries to give gifts of livestock, sewing machines, and a number of other employments to people in villages all across Asia. They also created schools for children who otherwise would be left to the streets or sent to work. And most importantly....Jesus and the hope of forgiveness from sin is offered to all. Reading books from someone who has seen it, been there, experienced another side of life always challenges your core actions, thoughts and living. I remember how every couple pages, I turned to my husband and said, "I'm not even saved!" (meaning not following Jesus). In K.P.'s book, "The Road to Reality", he literally challenged my reality. "Measured against eternity-nothing of this world makes much difference at all. A hundred years from now, it is unlikely that even one person in the world will remember what we looked like in this world."                                                                                             

 The following is a list of realizations:

 If my heart does not grieve over the millions of people who have never heard the name of Jesus...

 If my day is not filled with prayer whispers to Heaven for my brothers and sisters here and abroad....

 If my finances and time do not reflect HIS kingdom instead of my own......

 If I harbor any coveting, pride, jealousy, unforgiveness or anger.....

 If I can look at another picture of a thirsty child, a broken man, a widow, a loveless woman and have my heart not break for their pain and eternal outcome.......

 Then my heart does not reflect the heart of my Savior.

 Reading through Scripture and through K.P's book it is evident of the power of prayer if we would just admit our inadequacy and rely on HIS sufficiency. People are healed, bread/fish are multiplied, and villages are transformed. "No man is greater than his prayer life" (Leonard Ravenhill)

 Now to be honest.....(which if I wasn't, there wouldn't be any point to reading this) I haven't fulfilled that list yet. Yes, I do pray more ( I find that the shower :-) is a perfect time to get some regular time in), and yes my heart does weep with those who weep (especially in Iraq, Israel, Asia, and here in my town). And yes, I do think about needs vs. wants, especially keeping in mind how many true needs there are around the world.

 Gisela writes in "Broken for a Purpose": "The secret of overcoming is through dying-to die to the right of recognition, honor, position, respect and so on." "If I understand this truth...I will learn to view my trials, disappointments, persecutions and victories as opportunities for the Holy Spirit to build and mold my life. Then, even during the most difficult and painful times in my life that strip me of all that I thought I was, I will be able to say, 'Yes, Lord.' trusting Him, knowing He is bringing me at that moment one step closer to look like Him." Broken for a purpose....his purpose... to look like Him.                                                                                   

To beat with the same heart beat, to weep for the things God weeps for, to see as He does, and to pray as He wishes. "stamp eternity on both my eyes" "Break my heart again with what breaks your heart" 

This is a life-long process made by a series of small steps....every two pages. :-)