Monthly Archives: August 2009

an invitation to more…

“‘See the former things have taken place and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.’” (Isaiah 42:9).

I want to be here today.

A blank computer screen and “yet to be realized” words cannot keep me from this discipline … this penciling of ideas until they fill and gather to become a completed work. It would be easy to skip the moment; to walk away from the “emptiness” and fill my time with another activity. But even then, I’m not sure what that “filler” would be; how it would go; if it would matter. There’s nothing pressing on my agenda this evening.

Just moments—time given to me from God as an investment toward something.

How and where I choose to invest them is a decision worth contemplating, but even then, too much contemplation results in very little being accomplished. I’ve logged a lot of hours into my contemplations only to arrive at the end of some of them with little to show for my measured moments of deliberation. I don’t want this to be one of those times. Instead, I want to ponder alongside of you; think and consider some of God’s words with some of God’s people who best understand this God who measures all of our moments and considers each one of them as worthy and precious in his sight.

And in this current moment that belongs to me (and to you if you’re reading this), my thoughts are drawn back to an important biblical truth spoken through the prophet Isaiah to an obstinate people. A chosen people who had yet to realize the depth and meaning behind his words as they were spoken in real time. Approximately one hundred and twenty years would pass before this obstinate people would recall the divine wisdom and strength behind Isaiah’s prophetic voice.

At that time, they would need his words as they languished in exile in a foreign land. Words that reminded them about the “new things” God had promised back then in a season when their sin wasn’t looking for anything “new” but only for more room to grow and flourish.

When life walks without the immediate and visible consequences of sin, sin can sometimes seem reasonable. It did for God’s children, and after ample warning regarding their blatant disregard for God and his ways, their sin landed them in an unknown country with some unfamiliar gods and an understanding that forced them to grapple with their “what’s next?” and “how did we get ourselves into this mess?”.

God graciously unwrapped their confusion with the truth of his Word … his many words as spoken over a century earlier through his prophet Isaiah; the Israelites didn’t pay much attention to his words then, but I imagine that they clung to them in their current state of desperation:

“‘See the former things have taken place and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.’”

Who couldn’t use a little bit of God’s “new” in the midst of a formidable exile? A promise laced with a divine truth that declares a future before the future arrives? That there is coming a return from exile and a replanting in the land of Promise that has been designed and orchestrated by God and spoken by him in the annals of time long before their appearance on the road ahead?

What encouragement could we glean from knowing that no matter how our lives breathe in this current moment, there is a good word from a good God spoken on behalf of a good future we’ve yet to realize? That for all of the former things that have taken place in our history, God has written his “new” into our tomorrows—into the “next” moments that happen beyond this one. That there is something he has declared beyond the visioning of our eyes and the hearing of his voice that, once unfolded, will speak the witness of his majesty and his incomparable love for a people who deserve far less.

God’s Word is full of such announcements to his people:


Beautiful proclamations contained and spilled forth within the pages of holy writ. Declarations made public by the heart of God via the pen of a few obedient saints who believed beyond the “reasonable and the seen” in order to scribe the voice of the unseen One whose reason extends beyond the logical to include the likes of you and me.

God prescribes his “new” for us—the usual suspects who’ve grown quite accustomed to the cloaking of an “old” way of doing life with him. Could it be that we’ve become a bit “crusty” in our approach to living out this “thing” we call our lives? Are you already imagining that tomorrow will unfold in similar stride to your today … your yesterday? Is there any measure of faith within your heart to believe God for more? To take him at his Word and to trust him regarding the declarations he has already made on your behalf and for his glory?

Is your belief in God couched in the reasonable, or is there a flicker of something more … a stronger inclination in your heart that leads you to believe in the unreasonable, unexplainable yet fully attainable mandates laid out for you in Scripture?

Our God can be trusted with our contemplations along these lines. For everything we believe to be true about our lives and their unfolding, there is more to the story. With God, there is always more to the story. There are things and moments he has imagined on our behalf that exceed understanding. To live with less, to settle for a life that simply “walks it out” in isolation rather than walking it out with God, is to forsake the inheritance that comes to us as children of the King.

I want to live better this week; to give God my moments and to allow him to write them with the truth of my sacred birthright. I don’t want to live as a pauper begging for scraps. I want to dine at the table of rich meats and finest linen and look into my Father’s eyes knowing that this banquet was prepared as a declaration from his heart, long before it ever came into being.

Two thousand years ago on an Easter morning in Jerusalem, Christ’s invitation for “more” sprang into being. It began with a cross; it ended with a resurrection. And it continues this day as a living witness to God’s very good and glorious declaration that we were meant for more than our current understanding of less. God’s story was written with us in mind.

Even now it springs into being. Perceive it; believe it, and then receive it as you sit with your Father this week in holy contemplation. There are some “blank screens” and some moments waiting to be written by his hand and with his truth. As always…

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PS: I’d like to hear from you … what “new” and “more” do you need to believe God for this week? God has already “announced” some good things in advance on your behalf. Spend time in his Word researching those things, writing them down, and carrying them close to your heart as you walk your inheritance in faith. We journey together, friends, and these few moments before the screen tonight are my way of investing in your lives for God’s kingdom good. I love you each one. Shalom.


Sometimes there comes a moment that catches me off guard, an unexpected pause in my day that strikes a chord deep within, stirring the cobwebs off of the history of my heart.

I had a moment like that today while listening to this song on Kimberly’s blog. The sacred nature of the setting, coupled with the haunting echoes from the acoustical setting, set my spirit aflame and called to my remembrance that long ago and far away split-second clarification when I clearly understood the grace and truth of Calvary’s gift.

I’m still a sinner, friends, and God’s grace is still amazing.

Remember and be thankful.

Have a blessed weekend, friends. As always…

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lunch money

lunch money

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).

What do you do when your kids ask you for lunch money? When those slips of paper come home from school announcing the menu choices for the upcoming week, and you’re forced to make a decision as to which “days” merit your $3.50? Do you, like me, scramble for change all the while grumbling about inflated lunch prices and how your child will likely drink the chocolate milk and nothing else?

What do you do when your neighbor comes asking for lunch money? Literally.

Mine did today; not because he didn’t have money to purchase his own lunch, but rather because we insisted that he did … ask us for something.

You see, our neighbor is a mechanic who works exclusively on Nissan vehicles. When we moved into the parsonage six years ago and noticed that Dr. John’s Auto Clinic would be sharing a fence with us, we had no inclination of how this would prove providential and beneficial to us over the years. He’s been a “saving grace” for our vehicles. He was again this morning.

The car wouldn’t start, and Dr. John was called to the rescue. He arrived on the job early; around the fence he came, with tools in hand, knowing that our car wouldn’t budge from its current state of rest. We feared the worst. He warned us last evening of the most probable cause behind the car’s refusal to start… something about a hydraulic pump “something or something” and an uncooperative clutch.

But an hour later, our “something and something” was fixed by flushing out the old hydraulic fluid and replacing it with some new. Our neighbor asked for nothing in return. When my husband insisted, he simply requested lunch money. My husband handed him a twenty dollar bill, and Dr. John asked him if he wanted some change.

Can you even imagine?

Lunch money, friends, in exchange for the provision from God’s great storehouses of riches. It couldn’t have come at a better time; I am profoundly grateful for the gift and humbled by the ways in which God continually arrives on the scene of my life to remind me of his watchful care on my behalf.

Every day and in incalculable ways, our God shows up to show us his “God-ness”. We aren’t always privy to his arrival. In fact, most of us miss it. Why? Because we’re too busy scrambling for change in the crevices and hidden places of our daily life instead of looking up toward the open and spacious places best reserved for his sacred grandeur.

Wide and long and high and deep. That is exactly how far our Father travels to get our attention and to lavish his love upon us. To flush out our “old” and replace it with his “new”. The simplicity and the complexity of it all still stuns me and leaves me speechless. Well, almost.

Look up this day, my kindred pilgrims, and see his kingdom come. His will be done. On earth, even as it has so beautifully been done in heaven.

As always,

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PS: Another satisfied customer; he made me include this…

Growing up Solid

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14).

The riding lawn mower quit working recently. Apparently, grounded tree limbs and freeway driving speeds over top of said tree limbs don’t make for a good mix. I’m not surprised by the breakdown. I’m only surprised it didn’t happen sooner.

After a few days at the shop and a costly repair, I informed the “lawn mowers” in my household that mowers and sticks don’t mix; they nodded their understanding. It didn’t sink in; not fully. For just the other day, the “lawn mower” man was at it again, driving like Mario Andretti, all the while crunching and munching the remnants from a recent storm beneath the blades of the newly renovated mower. When I confronted him about the issue, he looked at me with all sincerity and ease and simply replied…

“Mom, I don’t do sticks.”

My immediate response to him?

“Son, that is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t do sticks? Are you kidding me? How old are you?

I’ll spare you the rest of the details. Your imagination is ample enough to create a fairly clear picture of just how it all went down.

I’ve raised two impatient sons as it pertains to the “doing” of the rudimentary tasks of daily living, which includes anything that doesn’t make their list of “how a young man should be spending his time.” And while they’ve always been willing to comply with these daily chores (and to their credit, with little grumbling alongside), the rules of engagement for accomplishing the tasks share one common denominator.

The faster the better. The sooner it’s done, the sooner the fun. Sometimes it works out that way; sometimes it doesn’t. They are both finding out via personal experience that faster isn’t always the best route for progress. That speeding through life sometimes presents them with a yield—a pause that forces them to grapple with their impatience and their choice to either “grow up” in this area or to keep returning to the bottle of their infancy.

As it goes with them, so it goes with me. There are seasons in my life when the pressure to mature burdens me with the responsibility of having to make a choice along those lines. In the days of my youth, I couldn’t wait to be older; at least then I would be in control of my decisions.

I was right; I’m now in control of my decisions, but there are times when the comfort of a little milk and a warm blanket are tempting. Times when I wish I could revert to the cradle and leave all the decisions up to someone else. Times when I, like my sons, say dumb things to others and to God, in hopes that my words make sense, but all the while knowing that they don’t. That they are offensive to the ears of those on the receiving end.

Unreasonable words. Thoughts based on emotion rather than truth. Casual statements issuing forth from a place of unbelief, fear, and selfishness. Justifications that aren’t thought out but, rather, are based on inconsistent sentiment that shrouds my flesh in self-interest.

I spoke as much to God this morning.

“Where are you God?”
“I think you’ve forgotten about me.”

“Could you just hurry up with the answer?”
“Is there really any point to this day?”
“I imagine that this is about as good as it’s going to get, so I’d better get up and get it over with.”

Yammering unbelief like that, on and on for a few moments, only to be quickly followed up by my confession.

“I’m sorry God. That was really a dumb thing to say.”

And then I laughed; and then he did. And thus, the conversation was opened up for a better word; a truer truth; a love and a grace that exceeds my stupidity to say,

“Now that we’ve cleared that up, elaine, let’s move on to some solid food.”

It’s time to move on with some solid food, my friends. Our maturing doesn’t happen overnight or with a quick ride around the lawn. Our “growing up” in the faith takes time … takes a willingness on our parts to bend to the menial tasks of picking up sticks and slowing our pace. Of entreating the pauses that find us, whether forced upon us by others or freely chosen by us because we’ve come to the conclusion that faster doesn’t always yield better. That solid food requires a longer chew.

And that chewing can, in fact, bring pleasure to the process of our becoming.

How about you? What excuses are you bringing to the table of grace today? What could you possibly offer up to our God as a justification for your staying as you are? What bottle of milk tastes better than a steak? What questions could you ask him that remain without answers? What elementary understanding stifles your “gettin’ on with the gettin’ on” as it pertains to your faith journey?

Can this mother’s heart be honest?

It’s time to grow up. Time to slow down and sit with Father God and listen to what he has to say. Why? Because if we don’t, we risk a lifetime of infancy, never tasting the freedom and joy that comes with moving onto our maturity in Christ. Jesus didn’t go all the way to the cross and back so that we could stay as we are; he made that journey so that we could become a living conduit of his kingdom and his grace.

And that kind of sacred consecration and calling, my friends, deserves more than our menial attempts at maturity. Kingdom bestowment deserves our unparalleled obedience and humble willingness to grow into our crowns and to be thankful for the grace it has taken to make them a worthy fit.

Leave the bottles for the infants and keep to the table of rich meats this week. I’ll meet you at the table of grace where the food is solid and the communion is ever sweet. As always,

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