Sunday, December 12, 2010

I am Yours

I am Yours

Lord Jesus, I must acknowledge that you have me following closely to you in this season of ministry.  Recently, I was aware of feeling dissatisfied in several areas of my life.  I started making mental improvement lists where I saw fault and weaknesses.  But the perfectionism led me down the dead end road of self-focus.

Then I came across a passage of Scripture that described you differently ~ that shaft of light on your face brought heaven and earth together for me.  It said that no matter your circumstances while here on earth, you remained faithful; your inner posture was a reverent submission to your Father. And that's when I stopped.  I reread the passage again and realized how often the attitude in my spirit is one of demanding more -- more from you -- more of me.

Such a contrast to your reverent submission brought me to my knees and I saw the extremes in my spiritual exercises. On the one hand, I expect to "feel"  total dependence on you.  On the other hand, I strive forcefully in my area of giftedness, setting my mind to a breakthrough.

Such extremes are like a hell to my inner life and can be confusing to those under my leadership.  Father, even as a leader I'm susceptible to acting out a different role other than daughter when I look too far ahead or when I stop being honest about my limitations.  Rescue me from these illusions as they make me feel hollow.

Lord Jesus, keep my interior strong as I intentionally embrace your call.  Replace the hollowness with joy as I know what it is you have called me to be and do.

"Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn't hesitate to treat them as family, saying, 'I'll tell my good friends, my brothers and sisters, all I know about you; I'll join them in worship and praise to you.'  Again, he puts himself in the same family circle when he says, 'Even I live by placing my trust in God.'"

Hebrews 2 from The Message

Monday, November 15, 2010

Leading that Brings Healing

Leading that Brings Healing

Lord, I need to understand the difference between leading that wounds and leading that heals.  I have nothing to do with choosing the people I lead.  That is beyond me and was your decision before the foundations of the world.  When it comes to leading that brings healing, I must remember two truths:  First, God’s preparation for me as a leader is to learn that all wisdom and knowledge come from his Spirit (I Cor. 12: 8).   Like the people I lead, God gives these supernatural gifts as he chooses.  Second, I need to let my team, my family, my students, my patients see me worship God.

I take my lead from the Old Testament prophets.  Daniel was known as a worshiper of the Most High God.  He lived in a city where pagan gods were worshiped, pagan philosophies were sought after and the Scriptures were ignored.  I live in a similar culture and Daniel’s healthy reverence for God speaks to me.  I must be consumed with the God who is for me.  I have no business being consumed with my ministry, the way others see me, or what agendas would please them.  That’s when I wound people with my leading.  I love the word that says, “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (II Cor. 3:12).   That’s when my leading brings healing; worshiping God opens his heart to me. Once I catch a glimpse of the wonder and greatness of God, I speak freely, openly, fearlessly.

My whole business as God’s leader is to be about raising my heart to him with love. Like Daniel, I am anointed (set apart with fullness) to display that my power, ability and sufficiency are from God.  Daniel’s friends saw him worship God before he knew the outcome of his bold confrontation with King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2: 20-23).  I am to be fully engaged in the lives around me, asking good questions, problem solving, offering a listening ear.  But I must remember that being a leader who brings healing means I must be an example that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).

I cannot call myself to lead, nor can I manage myself to lead in way that brings healing; but I can keep myself spiritually clean before God, ask for wisdom, and depend on his revelations. 

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because the Lord anointed me, to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the broken the hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners . . ." Isaiah 61: 1-2.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Speak Tenderly To Me

Speak Tenderly to Me

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.  There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope . . .”  Hosea 2: 14-15a

I must remember that the vineyard not only shows me how deeply loved I am by Christ, but how real, lasting fruit is produced.  In the vineyard, the God who chooses me digs up dirt, clears away stones and plants me with the choicest of vines.    With such allure and tender care from the Vinedresser, how can Isaiah sing, “Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit” (5:2)?  It was in the vineyard context that Jesus told his closest disciples, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing (John 15: 5).  I will be faced with countless seasons when the Landowner comes to collect the fruit.  The wood on the vine is too soft for any other purpose; it is good for nothing except fruit-bearing. And the only way I can be prepared for those seasons is threefold: dependence, communion, and obedience.

First, the vineyard is not a place of independence.  I must be a woman in leadership who recognizes the details in which God has given me everything to live a fruitful life.  My family, my work and my call are gracious gifts from God but I am not to depend on them.  I am to live with a confident dependence that “nothing else in all creation will . . .separate [me] from the love of God . . .” (Rom. 8:39). 

Second, the vineyard is where sweet communion happens in the everyday.  I can choose to “put off” intimacy with my Savior to the end of the week, but I cannot avoid that He’s waiting for me.  The tragedy is that if I avoid intimacy, I will have that need met elsewhere.  Tempted to self-sufficiency, I shut others out as God and those closest to me have “failed” to meet my need.   Such desire is the clarion call of the Creator to his creation. Dependence is a place of trust that helps me to say, “Speak tenderly to me” (Hosea 2: 14b).

The vineyard season of fruitfulness follows the sequence of dependence, communion and finally, obedience. Lord Jesus, let me honestly say that to “obey is better than sacrifice” (I Sam. 15:22).  Let me deeply know that fruit-bearing is not based on my performance but what you accomplish through my obedience. And I will hear you say, "Remain in my love” (John 15:10). 

“Obedience is the necessary stepping-stone to fruitfulness and power.” ~Glyn Evans

What has been a fruitful season of life for you?  What does that look like?  What about a season of pruning?  What did that feel like?  What blocks sweet communion with Jesus?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gaining and Losing

Gaining and Losing

Teach me, Lord, that to gain all you have for me, I must be willing to lose.  Paul was a competitor.  He readily admitted his credentials and advancements (Galatians 1:14).  Humanly speaking, he was the best, a Hebrew of Hebrews.  But what a changed person he became when he started doing the math from your perspective -- when he started considering "everything a loss . . . " (Phil. 3:8).

His new math skills were not gained by his natural brilliance.  Actually, Paul relinquished his earthly accomplishments when you revealed yourself to him:  he chose to forget what was behind (3:13).  He was willing to lose his zeal, his perspective, his natural passions to gain you -- to win Christ.  Lord, that's an extremely difficult lesson for me:  Is my determined purpose to know you?  Am I willing to lose, to win?

Deliver me, Lord, from my own calculations: knowing the right people for that more promising job, comparing myself with others in the same season of life, giving up on that one young person when you want me to press on and leave the 99 behind, glorifying the past of when the buck didn't stop with me, refusing to simplify my schedule or reduce my purchases.  I must not mix my reason with yours, not lean on my own understanding.  The world is full of logic and intelligence.  But only when I let you teach me, only when I forget what is behind and do the "one thing" do I gain a heart of wisdom.  As a woman who is taking your Kingdom by force, remind me that eternal life is knowing you (John 17:3).  

Psalm 27:4 "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple."

Questions for Reflection:

1. What might God be asking you to "forget what was behind"?
2. How is it a loss for you?
3. In that situation, would you consider forming a prayer where you ask for more of Christ - to gain Him?  Journal any insights you are given.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Walking On Water

Walking on Water

I am still surprised, Lord, when you call me to walk on the water to you.  What did it mean to Peter?  Exactly what you told him it would mean: "Take courage!  I AM; stop being afraid!" (Matthew 14:27).   Stop being afraid? How often, Jesus, do you lead me into situations where my entire perspective needs to shift so I will stop being afraid?  Maybe none are as dramatic as walking on the water during a storm.  But frightening situations nevertheless.  For the important thing about not being afraid is WHO is saying it to me!  And the situations I have faced in the past where I hear your voice most clearly, are the ones where you have altered the foundation of my perspective.  Peter's perspective was about to become the rock upon which you built the Church. 

Peter was able to lead the early church with your perspective because he was willing to walk where it was impossible to walk.  And he believed that he could walk on water because of his intimate relationship to Jesus Christ.  The walking on water scene created a pattern for Peter's faith.  If Jesus tells me to come to him, even when I'm afraid, I am to walk. . . Peter started to sink when he focused on what he was doing rather than to whom he was walking.

I need to remind myself that all of God's initiatives towards me are expressions to show me his nature.  That's why I need to walk on the water when he calls my name.  Watching someone else walk on water can inspire me but it doesn't increase my faith inwardly.   As a leader, I need experiences with Jesus where I can hear him calling me to walk on the water: a place where our communion is so real, I no longer need to rely on my own devices.  Just one word from Him, "Take courage, it's Me! Stop being afraid," calms the wind, settles the waves, ceases the rocking of the boat.  

Psalm 25:14 "The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them."

Walking With God

January 13, 2010

Walking With God

Lord, as a woman leading in today's culture, I need your help help in renewing my mind.  Ephesians 4:23 actually commands me to "be renewed in the spirit of my mind having a fresh and spiritual attitude" (amp.)  But how do I do that?  My mind doesn't have a "clear" button I can just push each morning.  It seems that a few hours pass by in my work and I'm listening to the enemies' lies about myself and about others.

I must remind myself that to renew is not just about being optimistic and upbeat.  It's not even about trying to see things from a different angle.  You are the heartsearcher who generates new thoughts, new ideas, new inspiration.  Could that be what Paul meant when he tells me to put on my new self?  My mind is renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Col. 3:10).  In other words, because Christ is alive He is establishing new thoughts that did not previously exist.  Great!  Lord, I need that from you.  I invite you to breathe life into my current frame of mind.  You see what's in my frame of mind this day, even this very hour.

I see three things I could do to be renewed in the attitude of my mind.  First, I will reject all lies and pretense.  Second, I will tell the truth to the people closest to me in proximity and heart.  After all, when I lie to others, I lie to myself.  And third, I'll acknowledge my anger; I'll even let myself feel it.  But I will not let myself use it for revenge or give the enemy a foothold.  I will resolve it before bed.

Could this be your will for me this day, a way to walk with you, like Enoch, who pleased you? May my testimony before others have the same impact and may they say of me, "She walked with God" (Gen. 5:22).

"Don't become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You'll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it"  (Romans 12:2, msg).