Tag Archives: freedom in Christ

Blowing Chunks

15 Mar

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Winter has been brutal in the Midwest this year. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE winter… in places that are equipped for it.

I like my snow measured in FEET, not inches, in a town boasting a fleet of ginormous plows and snowbank snowblowers.

Here in the city we have temporary plows fastened to the fronts of pick-up trucks. Winter laughed at them this year!

But now the trucks are emerging from winter’s hold like insects wrapped in a spiderweb losing its stickiness. The Northern hemisphere is tipping toward the sun, reversing the frozen grasp that has seemed so very permanent. Ice is cold, and hard, and unyielding… until sunshine returns.

This week I was driving into the city for a worship service. I was late and unprepared due to a tough, unforeseen situation. As I drove, I tried to pray and keep it under 70. Watching the speedometer was easier. I was so distracted by this issue and frustrated that I wasn’t prepared!

God often uses my environment to speak to me when I’m like this. Behind the truck in front of me what looked like puffs of smoke blowing across the road caught my attention. I sped up to see what was going on, kind of like Moses checking out the bush.

The truck was dropping ice bombs that exploded into snow-puffs when they hit the road.

The mud flaps (or should they be called snow flaps this time of year?) concealed the truck’s underbelly where I suspected the ice chunks were coming from. All I could see were little explosions of celebration every time one fell off. Even the biggest and toughest pieces of ice couldn’t weather a drop onto concrete going 70. Every one was obliterated. I laughed, imagining that the truck’s mileage will get better this week after winter falls off.

When I pulled into the parking lot we share with a liquor store, I sat there for a few minutes to let some chunks fall off me. I was still distracted, but as I looked at the outside of the church my heart grew light knowing that God would work in our hearts that night– he has every night we gather in community, and I knew he would again.

The prep was already underway in the kitchen (we have a meal together before the service), so I went straight to the dining area to run through the night’s songs. I love Jesus, and I love to sing; the combo is often cathartic, but that night I heard God singing back to me as I worshiped him. The day’s chunks melted off my heart and the residue blew away as I worshiped.

The ministry that God did that night was amazing! A woman that is seeking God stayed late, and we talked about freedom in Christ. A couple of weeks ago she made a pact with the devil, but now I could see the enemy’s web losing its grip as her eyes communicated understanding of grace that we’ve been praying for for so long. There are a few ice chunks still clinging to her heart, but many more melted off. For the first time she can see the path leading to Jesus.

What has seemed like an endless winter is powerless when spring sunshine returns. Every piece of ice will melt.

What had all the makings of a fiasco-night developed into a divine worship service that glorified God that began when my rehearsal tipped over into praise and God removed the crusty ice from around my heart.

That would have been enough.

But God also let us watch as years of suffocating bonds fell away from a tender heart.

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READY FOR WORSHIP

As people enter our church buildings tomorrow, many will be carrying junk from a broken world. Some will bring hard issues deep in their underbellies that no one can see. Others will be wound with a sticky web that constrains their worship. Many will be distracted by the pressures and pace of life.

All of them will be entrusted to us.

God works through several aspects that intersect our temporal physical world with the eternal spiritual realm – the primary ones being his word, prayer, and worship. We can plan, lead, and deliver a perfunctory event using all of these.

Or we can invite him into every facet and watch him work. That is my prayer for all and each of us tomorrow.

Spring has come back to the Midwest; all the ice will melt.

Jesus came into the world to break every chain and make all things new.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
.    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
.    and rivers in the desertIsaiah 43:19

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  Revelation 21:1-7

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The Voice

11 Aug

“I am the good shepherd;I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”  John 10:14


At rehearsal this week we learned a song written by a team member that has a tricky instrumental bridge–  three pairs of two hits that aren’t on the downbeat, but somewhere between one and the and of one.  I couldn’t analyze or notate it.  I had to listen and let it sink in until it became a part of my musical soul. _____________________________________________________________________

I’m in a season of soul-listening to Jesus.  Not because I don’t know His voice– I do– but because other voices around me are so loud and insistent, and my soul gets fractured trying to attend to so many different sources.

And I miss The Voice.

The Ministry Voice incessantly chatters a long list of “shoulds” that assault my soul like water-torture droplets on my forehead.  The Good Shepherd reminds me that He didn’t meet every need while He walked the earth, but He did accomplish all that the Father asked.

The Perfection Voice clucks its tongue with the slightest imperfection and screams, “Loser!”  The Good Shepherd asks me to do the best I can with what He’s given me for His glory, and lovingly whispers, “Well done.”

The Righteous Voice reminds me of my rights, especially the right to be offended when others don’t honor my rights.  The Good Shepherd draws me to Himself, nodding His head and assuring me He understands.

The Self-Interest Voice rises in pitch indignantly as circumstances and people’s needs creep into my agenda.  The Good Shepherd lovingly teaches me that He came to serve (not to be served), and that I am not above my Master.

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By the end of the rehearsal the team was tight because we listened to the songwriter until we each knew the progression.  Then we practiced it until it was collectively ingrained and unconscious.  We were able to get past the mechanics of the rhythm and give our attention to Jesus.

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Ready for Sunday

Today I am having one of those “DUH!” moments.

  • How can I lead others to the Shepherd if I’m not listening for His voice?
  • And why do I listen to the other voices?  Their goal is too enslave me; the Good Shepherd wants to set me free!
  • He has made my spirit to connect with Him at the deepest of levels.  “Deep calls to deep!”  Why to I settle for a shallow shadow?

So what needs to change?

Time spent with the Good Shepherd, at His feet, listening to His voice– to the exclusion of all others.  When I am thoroughly saturated in His truth, the lies become clear and lose their hold on me heart.  Fakes fade in the presence of The Voice.

He knows me.

I listen to Him.

Full stop.

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