Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Will Never Unlove You

The Presence of Love

In life's noisiest hour,
there whispers still a ceaseless love of thee.
You are my heart's solace and soliloquy.
You mold my hopes.
You fashion me within,
and to the leading love-throb of my heart,
through all my being and through my pulse's beat,
you lie in all my many thoughts like light.

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This is one of the more splendid love poems and a personal favorite. There is a second verse that clearly demonstrates that Coleridge is speaking of the earthly love of his life and when I take the poem as a whole it is John's face I see...but... the first verse for me also belongs to my Lord and could easily keep company with the Song of Songs.

"In life's noisiest hour there whispers still a ceaseless love of Thee...You lie in all my many thoughts like Light..."

Some time ago I read a book called A Whisper in Winter by Shannon Woodward. In the introduction the author speaks of the jumble of a day centered around a struggle getting her very strong willed 4 yr old son to mind while trying to carve out a quiet, inspirational time to write the book.

She says she was full of all the wrong thoughts and dry as dust when her son, whom she had put to bed for the umpteenth time, sheepishly shuffled into her room to ask if there was ever a time when she would "unlove him."

She responded by scooping him up into her arms and pronouncing "Never!" He asked, "What if I had 10 bad days? Would you unlove me if I had 10?"

"Not 10 hundred! I will never unlove you!" And then the whisper came to her, "And I will never unlove you..."

I believe that in all of life's noisiest hours there are whispers of that ceaseless love. That is a verse I could have written to God but He said it first. "I will never unlove you."

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3

You lie in all my many thoughts like Light. Warm, radiant, illuminating, He is there at mind's edge on the busy, crazy, heartless days to flare up to full flame as all the rest is pushed aside or just to quietly be there when it isn't. I think that we also lay in all His many thoughts. I know so because the scripture proves it.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace (wholeness, well being, health, blessing) and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

If we still our hearts sometime today and listen we may hear such a whisper, "I will never unlove you." Having heard, whisper back, "Father, I will never unlove you"

My heart knows that you mold my hopes and fashion me within and I will never unlove you.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Golden Brushes

I listened to a story about an artist on NPR. Old habit from when JD was in Iraq, I keep the radio on to get the news. In the process I get many other interesting things.

I have always loved illuminated manuscript and treat myself to bits of it when I can as copies. Our first Christmas in Anchorage the folks at First Assembly gave John a bonus and being John, he spent it on me! He knew I was fascinated by the Book of Kells and there was a coffee table book at Barnes showing all the colorful book plates full of the images of scripture. I spent that Christmas in a monastery in Ireland without ever leaving the Lazyboy.

This is a news story about a woman who has opened an apprentice program to teach illumination. She has designed and created, with the help of students who live with her, 6x9 ft paintings of cities torn by war or tragedy. They are called Cities of Peace. She has many interesting touches in the works. She even had astronomers configure the night sky as it appeared over one city on a specific date. Jerusalem is my favorite.

The link will let you look at the works, hear the newscast or read the story if you like.

What struck me was her description of how the illumination is created. I never knew in all of my reading, all of my looking, all of my wonder, that illumination is, in part, a joining of mud to gold. Many other inks are used but wherever you see gold there is mud under it.

Mud is mixed to a thin paint and laid down as a base for the work. Then the artist, through the use of a mordant or special glue overlays the work with precious metals, usually gold. The monks did this to illustrate the attachment of man to God. The beautification of the common by the sacred. "Faith" came to mind. Faith as a mordant joining dusty man to the sacredness of his Creator by faith in the atonement of Christ. Beauty for ashes.

When we look at illuminated works we do not see the common. Our eyes see only the craft, the mastery, the beauty produced by the overlay. May the world see that when they look at us. No more dusty-muddy people but people Illuminated by a special, costly (Jesus paid it all) beautification program created in the heart of a loving God.

My heart knows for a certainty that the artist who drew the heavens, who mixed purple and red into the sunset, has a desire to beautify our lives to reflect such artistry. Heaven knows the world needs it. All our muddy footprints removed from sight. Have you ever considered that you can be a masterpiece? God has considered it and you are a work in progress. The gold is standing at the ready. More glue? Make mine extra sticky.

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting praises. Romans 5

The Holy Spirit has mixed His paints. He has dipped His brush in your color pallet. His artistry is without question. What has He ever touched that has not testified to His skill? He is a Master. He will bring you to breathtaking, technicolor life, shot through with Christ's illuminated glory, mud marks not withstanding. Trust Him. For you it is all about love and golden brushes.

The Four Evangelists, Book Of Kells, Ireland

(From a 2008 email to friends)


All things happen to us so that we will have an answer to why we have the testimony, the faith, the salvation, the joy that we have. So that we may point to the memorials of God in our lives and leave them as highway markers for those who follow after us.

God can "cook" and he wants us to have every confidence that we can too. He doesn't just give us the cook book, He cooks for us and asks for a demonstration back. "Love me? Feed mine."

He wants us to know He is always enough (more than food, or money or life) and He wants us to know the words of "enough" that He knows. The enough line in the sand that says to Hell, "Go no farther!" And the words of abundant, limitless enough that say, "Christ is your satisfaction, be ye filled with whatever you have need of!"

When the multitude hungered, the apostles wanted to send them away. They were tired and knew the people were tired and hungry and they said "Enough already." Jesus wanted to seat them, feed them, show the 12 how to camp cook for all that were hungry.

Christ's definition of enough bore little similarity to the apostles at that time. That would change. Peter's proclamation, "Silver and gold have I none but such as I have I give thee, rise and walk in the Name of Jesus," was born of eating the bread of enough. Enough has a voice that is obeyed.

When God gifted me with my first 40 day fast I really got a cooking lesson. I learned about "enough." I learned that when you seek the God of Enough you should get ready for the oil to run like a river, the bread to rise and Hell to starve. Get ready to have something to say worth listening to. Get ready to know what it means to say, "I have meat ye know not of." The Table of the Lord was enough.

Our Enough God wants to show us what enough really is...Himself. Where He is, everything else is also. Satisfied, nourished, complete.

I have been looking into Kings and Insight for Living had this offering. I'll share this out of the life of the prophet who had learned about enough and shared the wisdom with a widow.

"You can't talk the talk if you've never walked the walk. You can't
encourage somebody else to believe the improbable if you haven't
believed the impossible. You can't light another's candle of hope if
your own torch of faith isn't burning.

When Elijah saw the near-empty flour bin and oil jug, he said, almost
with a shrug, "That's no problem for God. Get in there and fix those
biscuits." Then he told her why.

Listen to these confident words of faith: "The bowl of flour shall not
be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that
the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth."

What a promise! That woman must have looked at Elijah, this tired,
dusty stranger, with wonder and bewilderment, as she heard words like she'd never heard before.

Have you ever spent time in the presence of a person of faith? Ever
rubbed shoulders with men and women of God who don't have the word "impossible" in their vocabulary? If not, locate a few strong-hearted souls. You need them in your life. These are the kind of incredible associations God uses to build up our faith!"

Taken from Charles R. Swindoll

If you are looking for me in the days ahead you will find me in the kitchen. A Bride should know how to cook. How to make enough for this hungry world. I have eager brother and sister chefs all willing to share ingredients, to celebrate enough, to become enough in Christ.

Grab an apron?

(Picture of Eucharist is a drawing I made when JD returned from a second tour in Iraq. I had taken daily Communion in the silver cup he bought for me before he left and the host was drawn using the mouth of that same cup.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Words of the Upright Save

Then stood before the Throne two men. One embraced and one despised. Tragically, for both in the Savior's eyes were loved, yet one forever lost, without a homeland; the other a brother celebrated, crowned with victory.

David Wilkerson and Osama bin Laden both departed this life this week. Wilkerson welcomed by His dearly loved Jesus, Wilkerson who told the world daily who loved it best, received with jubilation. Bin Laden, the antithesis of such selfless goodness, may have experienced a different fate. His eternal reward or the lack of one I leave to the only one able to judge him. (God will render to every man according to his deeds... Romans 2:6)

An email I sent to friends and family in June of 2006 came at once to mind. It was Father's Day and two soldiers from the 502nd of the 101st had been kidnapped and murdered. In all my jumbled up feelings surrounding that time, God caused me to recall as He does at this very moment, the power we have to oppose evil and vanquish it. To turn it away from a life, to refuse it a handhold and thereby save those who would associate with that life from hurt and harm. Bin Laden was not always the mastermind of 9/11.

I offer this story to you in the hope that it will encourage you to "Tell them." Find a field and plant the Word and save the Bin Ladens of the planet from themselves and from blood guiltiness if they will hear. They are all around us. They are not all on foreign soil. Support our missionaries and pastors who labor to "Tell them," but don't just delegate this responsibility.

"Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you for a reason regarding the hope that is in you," 1 Peter 3:15

"Go into all the world (including where you work, shop, live) and preach the gospel to all creation." Mark 16:15

It is a mission Jesus will bless.


I was so sad when I woke up this morning. The news that wakes me every morning made me cry.

"Two bodies found. Killed in a barbaric way."

I don't remember breathing. It felt as if my heart clamped down upon itself and made a tiny fist in my chest. My imagination, which had been kept prisoner by the force of my will and prayer life, burst through my defenses and ran riot through my mind. Even now images are forming that will haunt my day or worse as details filter through to us via the news.

It will be hard to give any real weight or significance to whose insurance claim gets paid today, whose medical assistant gets a raise, which doctor joins what PPO. Even less important will be any disagreement with family, any minor offense I may have suffered, something they were out of at the grocery, the long wait in line at the bank, what to cook for supper.

Many years ago there was a terrible killing of a small boy in the town I was from. It caused a seasoned Judge to retire from the bench. I was upset with God that He could exist and be all powerful and do absolutely nothing to stop it. How really merciful He is was born out by the fact that He knew of my feelings because I was standing in my living room, with my own child sleeping in the next room, and I was pointing my finger at Heaven and laying my case out with some of the choice expletives I was famous for in my younger life.

I accused God of indifference, of cowardice, of being an outright liar when He wrote of His love for us. I recall saying, "So just you tell me how come these things can happen and you do nothing!" I went to my Bible, not for comfort but to accuse God using His own words.

My Bible fell open to a line that silenced me, changed me. The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them. Proverbs 12:5-7 One version says, "The words of the wicked kill. The speech of the upright saves." God knew I was not angry because two degenerates had used harsh language on a defenseless boy but His point was made.

I felt a stab of accusation, "...the words of the upright save." There were people out there who were hell bent to destroy, to lay in wait for blood, but the words of the upright are the defense against that. I began to see the place of grace in our world. More than that I saw my responsibility as a contact point for that grace. I had to start talking.

God not understand? Who was I kidding? He had written of His love for us in blood. He had sent His son to a foreign country only to see Him abused, tortured and murdered and made a public spectacle. There were many insults Christ's body testified to upon His death. I shudder when I consider the story His corpse whispered to Mary as it lay in her arms. Yet His parting words to those who loved him were to go "tell them." God had done His part. He was now trusting us to save those who conspire to do evil by telling them about Christ, by the word of our testimony.

My response to that day was to teach children's church. It was like throwing starfish back into the sea one at a time but how can any of us know how many lives we really touch? We are tempted to wonder who the little ones we tell about God will grow up to be. There is also the matter of who they will not grow up to be. Someone who waits on the blood of his neighbor. God did his job. I had to do mine. If there was a chance to let someone know Christ loved them then I was going to do some talking.

As I sit here today feeling so much that same anguish I am still persuaded that as a people we have something to say that can prove a defense against the evil in this world. As a church, as a country we have a voice that can change lives and impact history if we will just use it. It can surely make the places where we live, work, shop and worship better. There is a God who loves us. People need to know.

Today my son will be feeling emotions I cannot understand but only in part. He will be shattered, angry, fearful, vengeful. He will have to master his own feelings to help those under him master theirs. Maybe today he will be asking God some tough questions. He may have been among those who found his savaged comrades who must now be sent home to parents not unlike Mary although less prepared to receive such remains.

I would give 5 years of my life just to be able to put my arms around John David at this moment. I would give everything I have to bring him home. While I may wake up some days and think how nice it would be to stay home and not go to my busy job, John David gets up and goes to work in the town that destroyed those boys.

Several months ago God told John David that the day was coming when it would be crucial for everyone to know that he belonged to Christ. I think this may be that day.

My son is a man of war. He will not forgive the offense done this past Father's Day. John and those with him will do their job. His good heart will be conflicted but I pray his rudder will remain true. I also pray he will find his voice, the one needed for this time.

Please continue to pray for John's safety. He cannot come home yet. My kitchen is waiting for him. His sweet wife has kisses. His father has a hug that will crush the air out of him. We will send our prayers and support to our troops, to their families, to the families of those whose loss takes our breath away. We will let ourselves be lead to that Rock that is higher, to that shelter.

And I will speak the name of Jesus and not be silent.

Kathy June 20, 2006


But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:14