August 31, 2012

I Don't Live in the Third World, But...

I don't live in the third world, but the place I live can seem pretty darn close. Twelve years ago, I stepped off of a church bus onto the pavement of inner city Memphis. Little did I know, it would be a week that would change my entire life direction.


When I look around my home now, it looks like a war zone. It is desolate and forgotten and broken and oh so very beautiful. I know that Jesus is here. I know because He is the One that invited me to come, too.


It is so very rare to find any kind of art that expresses the state and need (and hope!) of the inner city, and while I know it might not have been his intention, singer/songwriter, Shaun Groves has managed to nail it. With his album, Third World Symphony, I am reminded song after song of why I have given up my apartment in the suburbs with two cars and free time to come to one of the most devastated, violent places in the country.

While songs such as Come By Here and Down Here express more than just a big-picture glimpse at what hopelessness and poverty can do to a place, and the songs Sing and Kingdom Coming express the battle cries of those fighting against such things, there is also present on this album the expression of deep heart things-- inward things necessary for the Kingdom of God to be built.

So, do yourself a favor, find yourself a copy of Shaun Groves' Third World Symphony, and pray for your heart to match up with God's.

August 30, 2012

Blind Beggar

"As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” "Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God." Luke 18:35-43, NIV

          Clearly, when I read this the first time, I didn't see things right. I took it, internalized it, and interpreted through my own selfishness and desires. Instead of seeing the blind man as an example of how I should approach You (full faith, not holds barred, and fully expectant), I saw You as a malevolent God who gives heart desires to all but me. 

         You asked the blind man what he wanted You to do for him. He didn't ask for much. He asked to see. 

        You have asked me the same-- what more could I possibly want from You? I selfishly said the only thing my heart could grasp at-- not devoid of You, but not seeking you, either. Now I get it. 

         Lord Jesus, I want to see. But, I don't just want to see why or why not. I want to see what and who and how. I want to see what You are doing in me, through me, around me. I want to see who You are working on, transforming, disciplining, and drawing to me that I might be Your hands and heart to the world. I want to see how You are proclaiming Your glory, how You are changing me, how You are changing everything. 

I want to see You-- for all that You are.

August 20, 2012

One Thousand Gifts

A few quotes from "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.

"Here are gifts worth waiting 365 days for, gifts worth counting to one thousand for, gifts that will unbelievably emerge out of the deathly dark. Joy is always worth the wait, and fully living worth the believing." (emphasis mine.)

"Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world, because the Word has nail scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, 'I know. I know.'"

"Evil is... a willful choice to turn away from the full goodness of God..."

"When I realize that it is not God Who is in my debt, but I who am in His great debt, then doesn't it all become gift?"

"...the God Who governs all can be shouted at when I bruise, and I can cry and I can howl and He embraces the David-hearts who pound hard on His heart with their grief... I feel Him hold me-- a flailing child tired in Father's arms. And I can hear Him sooth soft, 'Are your ways My ways, child? Can you eat My manna, sustain on My mystery? Can you believe that I tenderly, tirelessly work for all the best good of the whole world-- because My flame of love for you can never, ever be quenched?'"

August 15, 2012

Being 16... and 25.

From MidnightPhoenix . Some things never change.
[song lyrics in the last entry are from this song.]

Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 2:20 AM

"God... help me out here a little. I need direction. Not really.. I just need insight on Your timing. I love YOU most."

Friday, May 16, 2003 - 12:59 AM

"my past is imperfect.. but this is the present. focus on that, and I can prepare for the future."

Saturday, May 24, 2003 - 6:49 PM

"Weakness.. yeah.. I was listening to a song the other day.. and I heard the line "See all my glimmering weakness"... how can weakness be glimmering? It seems so dull and uncomfortable to me.. but then, I remembered the verse in 1 Corinthians when is says that God's power is made perfect in weakness... MY weakness? I find that so hard to believe. SO hard."

Sunday, June 1, 2003 - 1:34 AM

"Am I just losing my patience? I wish sometimes that MY timing was GOD'S timing... *sighs*

Father, help me do what's right.. don't let me do anything stupid ...just.. make everything clear and give me peace about it all.."  

Monday, July 13, 2003 - 3:21 AM

"What's a major turn on for you? respect for human emotions.. an incomparable love for God.. that sort of thing.."

Sunday, July 13, 2003 - 9:46 AM

"When the night seems so long...
(Throw your hands to the sky)
You can sing a new song.
(wipe the tears from your eyes)
When you're weak, He is strong.
He can heal your wounded soul
And calm the storm inside...."

August 06, 2012


I haven't really heard the term "vindicate" a whole lot in my life. Sure, Dashboard Confessional said it once. My father used the word to describe his disposition after Mark and I finally fixed the fuel pump in my Buick. King David asked God to do it to him... to vindicate him.

It wasn't until just recently that I realized the word applies very much to me, as well.

See, God has promised me things. He's opened my heart, dropped little hopes inside, and sewed me back up until the proper time. I get antsy, sure... I get antsy when I feel like God's not going to come through, when I feel as though I am a loony, and I can't possibly be hearing Him right. I get antsy when I forget one simple thing: those aren't my promises to keep.

This is all very important, you see. I'm finding that these struggles and trials of mine are not only for the purpose of building faith and perseverance. This isn't a patience issue. This is a spiritual gifting issue.

When God speaks something to me, I need to trust it. Sometimes, I don't. Sometimes, it's because I don't think it's all that important, sometimes, it's because it's easier to live in disbelief than to face the possible pain that comes from being wrong.

Slowly, I'm learning not to protect myself. I'm learning that's what God's promises are there for. I'm learning that believing in the statement "those aren't my promises to keep" is essential to walking in the Spirit, because sometimes, I'm going to be wrong, and sometimes I'm going to be right. The only way to stay sane: Let grace cover the wrong, and let God vindicate me on the rest.

On Aprils

Ten years ago, I sat in the dining hall of a Christian camp. A man my father's age sat with me. It was April, and I had no idea... I had...