Friday, October 7, 2011

poetry of the Spirit

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."  Romans 8:26

It's intriguing to me that I spend my time toying with words, trying to bend words into paragraphs and poems to explain the thoughts of my heart accurately... and that there are things in my heart that I will never be able to express accurately with words.

 Poetry is at its most beautiful when it can express the deepest feelings of human existence, the things we thought we couldn't describe.  The poetry of the Spirit must be mind-numbingly beautiful... "groanings too deep for words."

There are times when my emotions are so deep, or my confusion is so great, that I am at a loss for words.  That is where the Spirit can move and intercede for me.  And often, so often I forget that He is even here, dwelling with me.

I believe this extends beyond our own personal prayers.  I feel this conflict when I'm listening to someone.  Not the half-listening I'm prone to when I'm doing too many things at once.  The focused listening.  When I listen to someone that is struggling.  Struggling with sorrow, direction, depression.  When someone feels like the world is dark and cold.  Again, the confusion.  Lord, I don't even know what to say, let alone what to pray for them.

How do I pray?  How do we pray when we've run out of words?

I think we can tell the Spirit when we have no words and ask for His intercession on our behalf and on behalf of others.  And, because He is God and we are His children, I believe He intercedes even when we are not strong enough to ask Him to.

This makes me wonder.  How often do my thoughts turn to the Spirit?  The One who can express the inexpressible?

"Some souls think that the Holy Spirit is very far away, far, far, up above.  Actually He is, we might say, the divine Person who is most closely present to the creature.  He accompanies him everywhere.  He penetrates him with Himself.  He calls him, He protects him.  He makes of him His living temple.  He defends him.  He helps him.  He guards him from all his enemies.  He is closer to him than his own soul.  All the good a soul accomplishes, it carries out under His inspiration, in His light, by His grace and His help."  -Concepcion Cabrera de Armida

I often forget the Spirit, the One that is so close, the One inside me.  The One who speaks when I have no words.  What power would be present among the body of believers if we truly understood and communed with the Spirit that Jesus gave us?

I want to learn to seek the Spirit, not just when I am at my most desperate, but at all times.  I want to seek Him each day and communicate with Him always.  I want to be in constant conversation with the one who is closer to me than my own soul.

 "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him or knows Him.  You know Him for He dwells with you and in you."  John 14:16-17

Jesus has given us His Spirit.  He did not leave us alone.  The Spirit is our Helper in our time of need.  Let's learn what it looks like to live with Him together.

Monday, October 3, 2011

two guitars, a keyboard, and a good father

Sometimes I worry when I write (more often when I don't write), that I've lost it.  I'm going to sit down at the Mac and have nothing to say.  And that does happen sometimes.  The cursor sits blinking at me and I have to walk away.  But it's never completely gone, eventually there is always something to write.

Tim gently reminds me that God is not a bad father.  He's not always looking for a chance to steal a gift away from you.  A gift that He gave you.  Father's give gifts to their children, and they expect them to use them, not worry about losing them.

My Mom and Dad gave my brother, sister and I two guitars and keyboard for Christmas one year.  We were taking piano lessons at the time and my parents signed us up for guitar lessons with Charlie Daniels (no, not the Charlie Daniels, the other one who sold instruments in Fresno, California).

My Dad encouraged us to practice the guitar as much as possible, we even brought the guitars in the van and practiced on the way to a track meet.  I think he hoped we would start our own rock band eventually, but we were all a little too shy for that.

In the end, I didn't practice that much.  My brother is the only one of us who can play the guitar, and I took a shortcut and married a guy who could.

This reminds me of how God gives us gifts.  My parents chose to give us those instruments, and encouraged us to "use" the gifts.  The only reason I can't play guitar is because I didn't want it bad enough for myself (and the strings hurt my fingers).  My parents didn't take the gifts away from us, they gave them to us freely and enjoyed seeing us use them.

God gifted you uniquely and it pleases Him to see you use the gifts and talents He has given you.

I think we worry a lot about what God's purpose is for our life and worry what gifts we should pursue.  We lie awake for hours wondering if we should have been an artist, engineer, camp director, missionary, or veterinarian and don't do the simple things.

Love God and love people.  After that, play your guitar, crunch numbers, go fishing, work your job, write your stories, raise your children, and live the life God has given you.

Someday God may take the gift away for a time.  Or you may grow old and not be able to move with as much ease as before.  But that doesn't mean He doesn't have something else for you, something even better.

What makes you feel close to God?  I would imagine it is when you are communicating with Him, just like any good relationship.  For me, it is when I write to Him and for Him.  I encourage you to seek out those places.  Maybe it is when you sing, maybe it is when you are outside, maybe it's when you care for His children.

Revel in the gifts He has given you and thank Him while you work and play.  He's a good Father, you bring Him joy when you live the life He has designed for you.

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures."  James 1:16-18

Saturday, October 1, 2011

the impossible

Is anything impossible with God?

I don't think so, but I don't live that way.

I realized that there are many things I write off as impossibilities.

This week I talked about Jesus with someone, someone who was one of the last people I would have expected to have a conversation about faith with.

Last night I felt like God was present in the conversation we had at youth group, on a night when I expected that no one would show up.

Tim told me about a quote in the book "The Forgotten God" recently that really spoke to me.  Here it is:

"It's easy to use the phrase "God's will for my life" as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience.  It's much less demanding to think about God's will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes.  It's safer to commit to following Him someday rather than this day."- Francis Chan

I think God works mightily in the 10 minutes we are given at a time when we are willing to listen to the Holy Spirit.  The conversations and actions that make up each day are of use to our Lord when we are willing to give them up to Him.

I think the Spirit prompts us to speak to the lost around us.  I get caught up thinking about what I'm going to do for God in the future and neglect those around me, especially the difficult ones... the ones that seem so far away.

No one is too far from our God this side of death.

I am ashamed that I have judged some hearts as being "too hard" when I choose who I am going to share Christ with.  Somehow I have gotten into the habit of picking out what appear to be "spiritual softballs" and avoid sharing with the ones who are more abrasive, or seem more hard-hearted.

Since when was I allowed to judge an "impossible soul"?

Jesus didn't operate this way when He was on earth.  In fact, He seemed to get along quite well with the tough ones and struggled with the "righteous."  The upstanding people around him wondered what Jesus could see in His motley crew of redeemed sinners, and didn't realize that they were the ones whose hearts were hardened.

Jesus tells a parable about the sower, who threw his seed without partiality on the path, the rocky ground, amongst the thorns, and on good soil.  The sower did not judge the soil but gave the seed to each in good measure.  In the end, only the seeds in the good soil grow and they are a picture of the ones who "hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit."

Rather than being generous with the word like Jesus, I pre-judge the soil and make my own decisions.  Unfortunately, I'm missing the point.  I can only see the outward appearance and not judge the condition of the heart.

The hardest of outward appearance, even the hardest attitude toward God may be hiding a heart that is crying out for Jesus.

Far be it from me to judge who is ready and who is not.

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."  1 Peter 3:9

God wishes that all His people were saved,and I think I'm ready to share with them now.  I pray that God will lead all of us, the likely and and the unlikely closer to Him.

"For nothing is impossible with God."  Luke 1:37