Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Heart of Worship

For just a few moments during our worship set this morning I heard the most beautiful sound.  The first song started with just a single voice and the piano leading, and the sound of the congregation singing as one reached all the way to the stage where I was standing.

There's no one like You, none like You.

I wonder if that's what God hears every Sunday.  I usually hear only the sounds of the music we play from the stage.  People standing in the crowd hear only the music and the sound of the few voices surrounding them.  But God hears it all.  And I wonder if He strips away all the extra noise and listens to simply the voices.  Different voices singing different parts, raising as a single beautiful worship offering to the One who brought them together.

I like to sneak a glimpse of the people while they worship.  It's a beautiful blend, our congregation.  There are the tall and the short, the old and the young.  Sometimes a stray child dances in the aisle, and that never fails to make me smile.  A row of college students sits on the front row, worshiping openly, and I remember my own college days when worship came so freely.  Raised hands are scattered throughout, some close eyes and others pour out their hearts as the tears fall freely.  Together, each heart lays on the alter of worship a piece of the sacrifice that God receives as a whole.

My ears heard only the sound, which was perfect.  God hears the sound, yes, but He also hears the heart.  Each heart.  What a new dimension that must add, the voice and the heart together, a sound heard only in the heavenlies.  What I heard was beautiful and fragrant.  How much more it must have been in that holy Place, the very dwelling of Yahweh where seraphs cover their faces and angels bow down...and where God's children approach to crawl into the lap of their Father.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Holy Experience

Last weekend a few friends came over at my request to help me pray over my house.  It's something I've wanted to do since I moved in but haven't actually accomplished.  Now I'm getting two roommates, strangers mostly, and suddenly I felt a new urgency to bathe my property in prayer before they get here.

I am very blessed to have friends so full of the Spirit.  I suspect that to them, praying over a house is a common and natural occurrence.  To me, it was brand new.  I felt very cared for and humbled that these friends would pray such authoritative and heartfelt prayers over this small piece of my life.  I was deeply encouraged as they petitioned the Father for spiritual protection, for blessings and favor, for freedom from supernatural chains, and for the heart-condition of two girls they've never met.  I watched my sweet friend anoint each door and window with oil, and I felt as though I was treading on holy ground.  We walked the perimeter of my property in single-file, and I smiled to myself as I imagined my neighbors watching us pray aloud and march around.

Whether they know it or not, these friends are my teachers, my mentors whose wisdom and life lessons shine light on my own spiritual journey.  I feel strengthened and encouraged after having been with them, and also challenged because their light reveals my deficiencies.  And so I am driven to my knees in prayer, asking for those same Spirit-qualities to be grown in my own life.  Isn't this a glimpse into the heart of God's Church, to encourage and sharpen and love one another?  I feel great joy in knowing that I have found an alive and active part of the Body to join for this season of my life.  I am truly blessed beyond measure, and I don't want that blessing to be lost on me.  I want to soak it up and let God shape and grow me so that He can use me to be these same things to someone else.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Uganda Warms My Heart


Dear Miss Elizabeth

Hi the best in my heart.
How are you but I hope you are fine.
How is our mother tell her that peace is missing you.
And she is not getting any message from you.
How is my brother with his wife?
I am missing all of you.
The best in my heart.
Thank you for your prayer.
I am very happy because God has answered your prayer prayers.
I passed from p.6 to p.7    God has made it for me.
You and me we are the same person.
You are the one in my heart from God.
I thank God for that.
God is performing miracles in our village
God has made allmost the pupil people in our village to get are getting saved.
I Love God and I trust in him
In him all things are imposible.
Love him Like I do.
Tell my brother and his wife that the Lord our God needs them.
Tell my mother that the Lord our God needs her.
My parents sent greettings to you.
That they still need their prayers.
The Lord needs you and me.
The aim of this Letter is to appreciate the Christmas gift and may the good Lord bless you abundantly
The budget is as follows.
The cloth at     30,000
The shoes at      5,000
The soda at       3000
The photo at      2000
The sweets at      300

~Peace, age 14
  Uganda, Africa

Friday, August 10, 2012

Grace That Is Greater

I'm in a season of learning, a gentle guiding of the Spirit that feels much like a close friend making me aware of important moments as we walk side by side.  Most recently my lessons have come in the form of grace.  I have prayed to understand grace, for God to break me open to know and grasp and feel the depth of His grace to the point it knocks me on my knees.  It's like a wildflower that has lined the path of this journey of life, always having been there, sometimes talked about, but always so present that I have become immune to it.  Now my Guide has paused me for a moment just long enough to point out this flower, to encourage me to examine it more closely, and as I begin to pay attention I notice the captivating beauty and intricacy that has been there all along.

I have prayed to understand, and I had hoped to be suddenly bathed in understanding.  But God doesn't always answer prayer in a way that matches my immediate-gratification lifestyle.  These lessons of growth, they take time.  Years.  A lifetime.  Bit by bit He pulls back the curtain, showing me only a glimpse at a time until the day comes when He will remove the veil completely.

With this glimpse, He puts me to work.  I want to grasp in the deepest places of my heart what the life and death and resurrection of Christ means to me and for me.  In order for me to understand what He has given to me, I must first give it to others.  And how much richer and sweeter it is to do the work and take ownership in the process.

This I have learned:  Grace is hard.  When I am wronged or inconvenienced, affected by the actions of someone else, lose or miss out from the decision of another, that is when grace isn't so beautiful and flowing. Rather, that is when grace rolls up her sleeves, takes a deep breath, and plunges straight into the muck that is sin.  She loves when love is not received.  She gives when all is taken, and then gives some more.  She is patient when the same mistake is made yet again.  She expects imperfection and embraces in spite of it.  She sacrifices self for the hope that one more will enter the Kingdom.

This also I have learned:  I expect to receive grace always, but do not readily offer it unconditionally.  I hold my interests close, finding it convenient to give grace only when I have a place in which she fits.  But that is not the way of grace, because that is not the way of Jesus.  The way of Jesus is to give, and to love to the point of death.

I want my life to revolve around grace.  It is hard and it is exhausting.  It means my schedule and plans will fall apart, because grace has her own agenda, and it has nothing to do with how I desire to spend my time.  At times it hurts, and other times it fills me with unspeakable joy.  It is a journey, one faltering grace-step at a time.


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