Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Will Burst His Heart With My Loving Him

We try to fend off His anger by bargaining with Him, thinking our hard work and sincere efforts will pay Him back for all those evil past deeds we're guilty of. But to our astonishment, He never even considered our attempts important enough to mention. What we had in mind was earning just enough to silence our guilt, but what He had in mind was overwhelming us with such an abundance we'd realize we can never, ever repay. What a beautiful picture of Christ at the cross. Chuck Swindoll

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8

I love this chapter of John and this verse that follows the story of the woman taken in adultery and saved by Christ. God's perfect Light ministered to a soul caught in a web of sin as well as the political intrigue of the moment. The enemies of Christ seek to use her to trap Him. Her guilt is not in dispute but it is overwhelmed by the love and generosity of a God whose hands hold no stones.

Her accusers dragged her out of the shadows but He offers her light without shame and a simple wisdom, "I don't condemn you. Stop sinning." Her fearful heart struggles to take His meaning:

I see your sin but I am going to deal with it in a way you are not accustomed to.

Christ overwhelms me as Swindoll says with the abundance of His good intentions toward me. Simple and uncomplicated affection. He loves me. He loves me. There are no daisy petals that say otherwise. He just plainly, truly, ardently loves me. His light sends my accusers back to the shadows unsatisfied but He fills me with goodness.

I will sit in His presence today and love Him back. I will tell Him how my soul receives His deep affection, how my life is good because He is good. I will burst His heart with my loving Him. I will.

I will put it into words that warm and inspire Him. I am His love letter today and my tender feelings fill the paper with fragrant words. I will sit forgiven in His presence and He will feel my love. He will.

Is there a place you want to sit with Jesus? A place without bargains? A place of grace?

Look. He has brushed a spot clean.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wondrous Christ

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

In many Protestant churches I have heard, sometimes with a degree of arrogance, people commenting on the Catholic custom of displaying Christ on the Cross. "Jesus is not still on the Cross!" Right. Maybe too right. It is easy to view an empty, often stylized version of the Cross and forget what really took place upon it.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

That Cross was a bloody mess. Upon it exsanguinated a flesh and blood man, His blood congealing to a cement like glue welding our sin to Him and Him to the Cross. Blood that has thickened smells. The shredded ribbons of skin torn by the lash began to die the moment the whip struck. Jesus literally reeked of death and our sin. The stench must have been overpowering and sickening in the heat.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Love and sorrow mingled like water and wine. He loved us and it cost Him. Whatever physical beauty Christ possessed, and we are told He was not striking, it was ruined utterly and totally and crowned with thorns so the cypress and the myrtle could flourish in place of nettles and briers.

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o 'er His body on the tree;
Then am I dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Paul says it beautifully, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

He took my place. Your place. He forces nothing upon us but offers His all and absolute self for the asking. The pain was His. The glory ours. If the planet were our possession to lay at His feet it would be small treasure in compensation for the grace flowing from His wounds, yet He will take our heart. He will take our heart, our love, our devotion and it will be the joy and rejoicing of His own eternal heart.

"Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."

To survey is to view in detail, especially to inspect, examine, or appraise formally or officially in order to ascertain condition or value. Survey the Wondrous Cross during this Lenten season and fall in love all over again with its Wondrous Christ. May it be a time for all of us, in a world intent on removing all vestige of His Presence, to press in and discover the deep places of His Grace. I wish you a prosperous journey.


Lyrics by I. Watts

Cross by Salvador Dali

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Peace Abiding Settles Deep

Baby stars caught
in a silken web
spun on angel looms,
Sleep creeps into
tiny children's rooms
Peace abiding settles deep
Sickness and care
replaced by sleep
The sweetest dreams
all night unfold
to weave their magic
in tiny souls
(Kat Cavanaugh-LaMantia)

The grandson of dear friends struggles with the time change between Japan and Dallas. Sleep eludes him. His military Daddy who stayed behind probably isn't sleeping well either.

I have a tired friend with sick children who are on the mend but now she is exhausted.

Sleep well. God will watch through the night. The Lord will guard your fields.

A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. Deuteronomy 11:11-13

What do YOU need to forget and leave in the Lord's care so you can drink in delicious sleep and rest? Settle in. He is with you all night loving you and looking out for all that concerns you. You are His land, His field. His eyes are upon you from beginning to end.

...thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Sleep sweet. There is a "thou shalt" in there with your name on it. You are His baby after all.

For Asa & Ben & Asher

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nothing Compares to Him

Kimberly Lorentzen shared some wonderful thoughts with me and with her permission they are published here:

I read your blog tonight with a shout in my spirit. I am reading Roland Buck's "Angels on Assignment" right now, and have been re-reading the same part for a week or more now because I cannot seem to move on yet, and I read it again in your blog tonight. We have no idea the magnitude of what Jesus did for us! We have no idea - none of us - how much God loves us, wants us, has and continues to clear the way for us to be near Him! Even in the moments of revelation when we, with our faces overcome with emotion, think that we grasp His love and what it cost Him, we don't. Not really. How could we? We've never seen anything like what He did! And those of mankind who were witnesses to the event still didn't see fully. If they did, the story would have been so different. And I suspect it had to be that way for the story to even be accomplished.

Can I share quotes from this book?

God not only wants believers to come closer to him; he wants those who are far away from him to come, too. He said that if you would call to him from wherever you are, from the very farthest point in all creation, he would remove all the distance between you and him. God WANTS you. He is not looking for reasons to disown you, but he is looking for reasons to help you and to bring you closer to himself...

God says, "You can come to me now! The barriers are down! You have been reconciled by the death of my Son!"...

All of our needs are covered in the atonement. With his covering over us, God can see us and accept us...Because people are in bondage to fear, it is important to God that people know that before he made the earth,he planned that they would be covered by his atonement. This is why he said in Eph. 1:4, "Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault - we who stand before him covered with his love."... The reason this is of such high priority with God is that people cannot really serve him without genuine assurance that their position in him is safe. Knowing this is REAL security! God is letting people know that he will not let them go without a struggle..."

"Wherever Christ and his message have been carried, there has been light. Where he has not gone or where the message has failed to penetrate, there is darkness. He is the center of life! He is the heart! Without Jesus, the very life, the very heartbeat would be gone from everything. Oh, God, may we never be the same because we will see, we will know, we will feel, we will have, we will live, because of what the death of Christ has brought to us. May this be the time in our lives when we take out the contract you made with us, written in the blood of Jesus, look at it, and recognize that something very special took place. It was not merely the snuffing out of this life, and the putting to death of his human mortality!...It was more!...

The second death which faces mankind brings fear, dread and torment to him all of his lifetime. This was the death Jesus took for us...Jesus suffered pains that even the ungodly, those totally separated from God, had never felt, for the ungodly have never felt the pangs that come when the last little flicker of hope is extinguished...While living on this earth, they have never felt the weight, the hopelessness and the horror of feeling the cold side of God as he turned his back on them. Jesus suffered the torment of a damned soul! From his heart he cried out , "Oh, God, why have you forsaken me?" and the cold pangs of eternal damnation, those icy fingers gripped his life, and Jesus suffered the judgment of God. He was totally separated from God at that moment!

Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! I want to bring this truth to people. Build a picture before us right now. Let us see what you have done. Let us see your love for us that was so great that your only begotten Son became our substitute! ... Every lie, every sin against ourselves and others, every murder, all adultery, all immorality, all dishonesty, all cheating, all rebellion, all idolatry, all enmity through witchcraft and satanism; yes, everything we could be charged with is laid on him.

He has become the sin bearer. He has become sin, bearing all the concentrated dregs of the rottenness of billions of people. Visualize him as the bulwark against Satan's attacks. God says, 'See him, discern him, because if you don't, you are often weak, you are sickly, and you are subject to the attacks, the let-down and the draining of your spiritual strength. See him, not as something of beauty, but as that sacrifice, with that rottenness upon him, with every murder, every lie, every bit of immorality, every bit of wickedness that could possibly exist, all the stench of homosexuality that caused Sodom to be burned; everything laid upon him there!'

Then as you see him, God wants you to see on that body, YOUR sin, YOUR weakness, YOUR failings, EVERYTHING that you have been worried about! They are there, but they don't have any strength! They are only the ashes of sins that used to be. Just the burned-out cinders! When you see this, sin loses its grip and its power to hurt you. You sins are nothing but ashes, because the blazing stroke of God's wrath and judgment fell on that body. With all the sins laid on him, and all of God's goodness poured into us, we can stand before God, knowing that sin has lost its power over us. ... He has turned sin into cinders. He has blotted out the records...he WANTS us! He is not looking for reasons to destroy us, but to save us."

I know that was a lot to quote. Sorry for the big blocks of text. I could quote more, but I'll stop there. I'm beside myself! It's more than we can comprehend! How is it that God is so good? He is so good! He is the standard of all that is good and none of what we call good compares to Him!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

You Raise Me Up

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be. Josh Groban

I have family and friends (odd way to say it because to me friends are family) whose stories are taking them into a valley season. I have one friend whose landscape seems to consist of upper and lower valleys exclusively these past few years while another brave soul told me, "You cannot understand what I am going through because I don't understand it myself."

We have lifelong friends whose family is in Japan and anxiety rises as the radiation level does. Friends with troubled children, with cancer, without a job, with elderly parents. We do not however have any family or friends without hope.

Rick Warren says it beautifully, "What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God."

Luke said it well also "What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows" (12:6-7)

Two copper coins? The price Christ paid for us was breathtaking compared to the cost of sparrows. Over the years and through many valleys, that knowledge has quieted the fear in my heart because I realize that what held Him to the Cross is what is upholding me in this moment, love in its purest and most determined form.

When there was a need for comfort in the Garden of Olives, when friends could not watch with Him in His passion, God sent an angel to attend Jesus. Those Oliven Angels are still ministering to the Body of Christ.

Heaven loves us.

Morning is coming.

There is a path up and out of the valley.

There is a mountaintop in our future.

Our Father is a good catcher.

He will not let us fall.

I am strong when I am on your shoulders,

You raise me up!

Friday, March 25, 2011

What I Have Written

Oh that my words were now written!
Oh that they were printed in a book!
That they were graven with an iron pen
and engraved in the rock for ever!
Job 19:23-25

Job has been suffering. He is vocal in his pain and he has made a wish which God received as a prayer. Job has been heard...forever.

One day as John was reading Job he looked up and said, "Kathy, this is amazing. Job is pouring out his complaint and he says he wishes all of his story could be written down somewhere and it is. Job's story is in every Bible ever printed! I am holding it in my hands."

I am reminded of another inscription. It is on a hill the shape of a skull. Another man is suffering. He has an audience. It is a mixed crowd. Those who love him are stationed close enough to his pain to mix it with their own. How he suffers. How he is abused. How undeserving he is of such punishment. Above his thorn crowned head is an inscription placed there by the highest authority in the land: This is Jesus. The King of the Jews.

For the moment His Kingdom is nothing but pain. Nothing but payment of our debt. In this moment this King is our sacrifice and He is holding nothing back. Our sin and disobedience will give Him no quarter. None will be asked for. This is love poured out to the last precious drop. It falls upon my hands as I write this. Not with a pen of iron but with keystrokes that will be read around the globe seconds after I push enter.

Suffering matters to a God who bleeds. Our hard times, our painful days, our own agonies are remembered and recorded. We are never alone and although He would not save Himself, would not rise to the taunts to "Prove it" Christ will save us.

"Father, forgive them.""It is finished." These words carry such weight and power. The King has said it. Rome with her governmental authority acknowledged His kingship. The Father who put all things under His feet has acknowledged His worthiness. What will our hearts say of His right to forgive us?

Christ's words from the Cross are some of the most quoted and written about of any words in any language. The bill of our freedom has been written with iron nails, signed in the blood of our Savior and recorded in Heaven and the Library of Congress. We are free!

What will we say to the Lord today about His suffering as well as our own? Whatever you have need of He has made provision for. He has written down His love and promises in the Book of Love and engraved your precious name in gold letters on its cover.

Pilot said in response to the malicious attempts of the priests to remove the inscription above Christ's suffering head, "What I have written, I have written." He was the Roman Governor who had the weight of Rome's authority backing up his words. Greater than he is the one who stares our demons in the face and declares, "What I have written, I AM has written!"

We are free. And we will see Him. Job went on to declare, ..."For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." Ancient forms have now departed. New life and a new way of living it has come by One worthy of remembrance.

Today is a new day. Jesus has a ready pen. We are fresh paper. What will the Savior write?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Arise Today Through A Mighty Strength

The Breastplate of St. Patrick

I arise today
through a mighty strength.
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me...

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of Creation

A friend and I have been bouncing this prayer back and forth in its abbreviated form and also the longer more ancient version. The Lord had us focus in on the stability of the rock, firmness of the ground, passage superimposed upon the heart braking earthquake suffered in Japan.

Living in Alaska as we do with its frequent tremors as well as volcanoes "breathing out threatenings" we watched the destruction in Japan with a prayer for our own safety. It could have been us. May Christ swiftly aid those so in need at this hour and spare us a similar fate.

The only safe place in our world is in Christ. He is our stable ground, our firm rock. There is no other security. He is our life, our breath, our peace, our nourishment, our strength.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength. (Isaiah 40 edited)

Whatever tomorrow holds for any of us upon this planet let us arise in the mighty strength that is ours in Christ and give Him all the Glory who is both God and Rock.
Gracious, Lord, remember your church in Japan. Help your people to find all they need for life. Protect them from discouragement and despair. Be the Shepard who carries them through the aftermath of this great storm to a place of safety. Reunite the lost, return financial stability, light the lamps of hope. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him,
In those who hope in His mercy...
For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;
He has blessed your children within you.
He makes peace in your borders,
And fills you with the finest wheat.
Psalm 147

Recently I had the joy of spending an entire day looking after my almost three year old grandson. Just John Sebastian and Grandma. We ate ice cream for breakfast, played in water until we were prunes, sang silly songs and had a wonderful time.

We read a story about a little bear who rolled a dead log over and ate the cutworms he found under it then we made our own cutworms out of cheese and ham and ate them for lunch. Since we live in different cities I poured as much of myself into those few hours as possible.

As the day was closing he presented me with a Playdoh creation. He stared into my eyes with a determined and serious little face and said, "Grandma, this is for you. Do not give it back to me because you need to take it home with you for you and Grandpa." It is sitting on the desk with me as I write this. I have no idea what it is but it is mine, from hands I love, and my heart swells when I look at it. I feel that perfect day all over again when I hold it in my hand. It gives me such pleasure to remember and to look forward to the next time.

I considered my relationship with the Lord. What tokens have I given to Him? What moments about my life warm His heart? What moments of my life live before Him for a thousand joyful years? What can I do to give Him pleasure? The scriptures assure us that He finds pleasure in certain things. In us. In those who know Him and hope in His mercy. He fills us with the finest of the wheat after all. Makes peace within our borders, blesses those we love, makes us secure. Even when we do not see all of it, it is so.

Lord, I give you myself. My words and actions and thoughts are yours alone. I am living today with you in mind. Take this day home and do not return it to me but place it in your hand in remembrance that You are my dearly loved Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is all for You, Lord.

I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. Psalm 43:4

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Soul at Rest

Lent begins tomorrow and it is one of those sacred and special times of the year that I treasure. Several years ago I read a book during Lent called Contemplating the Cross by Tricia Rhodes. I have been carried back to the Garden, the Cross, the Tomb and the Resurrection via that wonderful book each year since.

Jesus is fresh and real in these pages. I can feel the fabric of his robe as I sit next to him at the Last Supper table, hear the catch in his voice at parting, the sound of hammer on nails, of a stone rolling away. I hear him say, "Kathy, put your dirty feet in my lap, have some bread, don't cry, I forgive you and I'll be back."

Give yourself a blessed gift and follow the link to this daily devotional. It is Bread to carry you down the road with nourishment, strength and thanksgiving.

"And yet all these things are merely a shadow of the beauty and power displayed in the heavenlies when the veil of Jesus' flesh was rent, sprinkling His blood across the altar of history. For this sacrificial Lamb atones for sins, not once a year, but once and for all, leading the way for humankind to live forever in the wonder of God's holy presence." (Contemplating the Cross pg 152)

(Bread by Kimberly Lorentzen and Asa)