Saturday, March 24, 2012


Lent 2012  A Clean Heart, Create in Me        C.S.Lewis

Friday, March 24                                            John 7:43

I think that dear ol’ C.S. muddied the water with that definition of faith.  I’ll try another English to English translation.  Faith is that power which helps us believe that which is true even in the face of those that would convince us otherwise.  UGH!  I don’t know if that’s any better.  We subject Faith to the arguments of those who are rational and logical but Faith is believing in that which is unseen.  To quote Hebrews 11:1, Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  (NLT)  Faith is believing even when the world tries to convince us otherwise.  People confuse Faith with a feeling that can be changed by environment or argument.  Yet, faith is more like a muscle that is always there and simply needs to be exercised to become stronger.  How do you exercise that muscle?   We find we need it even before we fully realize that we have it?  Lean on the Lord and you will not be disappointed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

in Me, yet I in Him??? HUH?

Lent 2012  A Clean Heart, Create in Me   C.S.Lewis

Friday, March 23                           John 7:28-29

“When they (Christians) speak of being “in Christ” or of Christ being “in them,” this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him.”  Wow, way to twist Physics C.S.  How can we simultaneously be in Christ and Christ be in us?  How can the jelly be in the doughnut and the doughnut be in the jelly?  My fellow Dr. Who fans would calmly reply, “Why it’s bigger on the inside.”  This means that Christ and Christians must be more than they appear.  I think of the message in the rear view mirror, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”  We cannot perceive how our Savior is both in us and through us and yet completely covers and contains us.  This is where our hope is born, where our worth is found.  Because of the memory of the sacrifice of Christ we are members of the body of Christ through communion.  Because of our acceptance of that gift we are redeemed by the new covenant in and through Jesus.  I guess that is why we call, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” the mystery of faith.  Christ is closer than He appears and is much bigger on the inside.  Indeed, He is big enough to save us all.  Thanks be to God.  Thanks be to Jesus, Thanks be to that Holy Spirit.   

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What is the Nature of the love of God?

Lent 2012           A Clean Heart, Create in Me         C.S. Lewis
Wednesday, March 22                                              John 5:39-42

“If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?”  I read that as: “If I were sure of God’s unearned love for me what couldn’t I do?”  I do not have control over God’s love but I do have control over my feelings.  People say you can’t choose who you love.  I say we choose how we love.  I think we can’t be sure of our love for God until we are sure we are loved by God.   How are we sure of the love of God?  How are we sure that we love God?  The answers lie amongst our actions.  Love is an active not a passive word.  Feelings can be fleeting and changeable as the wind but LOVE is bigger than just an emotion.  LOVE after all conquers death

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I've got that Joy Joy Joy Joy...

Lent 2012  A Clean Heart, Create in Me   C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, March 21   SPRING!!           Isaiah 49:13

Wouldn’t that scripture make a great (or horrible) wake-up call?  We have allowed our busyness to make our mornings a weightlifting exercise.  Just lifting our eyelids and acknowledging to the world that we are indeed awake brings in a flood of to-dos.  But suppose instead the morning was met with TAH-DAHS!  Imagine singing to clear the croakiness of our throats.  Imagine dancing to stretch and strengthen those achy muscles.  Imagine having God as our loving scheduler.  Imagine throwing our concerns and suffering upon the One who can always do something positive with it.  O Glorious Day! 

     Listen to Casting Crowns:

     Or perhaps Chris Tomlin:

Because sadness that does not bring reconciliation, repentance or restitution is selfishness.  I am not suggesting that we never allow ourselves to experience sadness and express it, however to choose the outfit of sadness and have it color our day to day environment is choosing to be less.  Those that can rejoice in the midst of the storm are truly and eternally saved.  Think about it: rejoice or re-joys. It is living those joy-filled promises again.  Knowing that our loss, disappointment, pain and oppression are fleeting is not denying their existence but looking at them with eternal loving eyes.  So I say again, REJOICE!  The Lord is with you.  You can always sing a duet and have a dance partner because the Lord will comfort his people.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Where our blogger attempts to translate English into English

Lent 2012 A Clean Heart, Create in Me                     C.S.Lewis

Thursday, March 14                                                  Jeremiah 7:23

WARNING! WARNING! LANGUAGE HEAVY BLOG!!  SLOW READING AND REREADING RECOMMENDED.  From C.S.Lewis, “God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.”  Ok, this sentence seems to twist and turn as much as a dog chasing its tail.  Let’s tear it apart and see if we can get to the juicy middle where hopefully God and meaning meet. God paid, this gift cost God something dear, but instead of diminishing this infinite God this gift somehow made God eternally more.   Intolerable meaning that we cannot bear the love of God.  The love of God is too much for us to label, understand, return fully, reciprocate or live without.  Yet this love is a compliment.  I would rather it be our complement, adding that which enhances us because it is, what we are not.  Loving us, it is a phrase that kaleidiscopes around because of the treasure trove of meanings.  How does God love?  Well check out John 3:16.  And who is included in this us? Check out Galatians 3:28.  And does deepest mean lowest or does it mean most significant, authentic, essential?  Well tragic is easy to understand.  God promises to be our God if we will be God’s people.  God is faithful and we are not.  God knows our broken nature before he makes this promise, indeed, even before God created us, he knew.  Yet how is it tragic if God continues to be God even when we fail to be his people?  Isn’t that where our hope resides?   Inexorable has these synonyms: relentless - implacable - grim – merciless.  These words limit us to an inflexible unyielding hard God, which, honestly, God can be.  I like the definition unstoppable.  This unstoppable Love will reach us no matter where we are and love us so completely that we can trust in a God that we cannot see.  What a compliment that we are given such a gift.  I hope it complements us as we strive to be the people of the God who loves, even us. “God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.” AMEN.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't "should" on yourself

Lent 2012 A Clean Heart, Create in Me           C.S.Lewis

Wednesday, March 14                                                  Matthew 5:19

A dangerous word, “should.”  Especially when we cannot understand the whole picture, we are not equipped to be judges, we are driven by desires and temptations and think we know what should be.  We think that any improvement is enough, is all that God has planned.  We want to be satisified, finished with all the change and work and struggle and just have peace and joy.  We are worried of what that higher level will cost us.  We forget that peace is not an end to conflict but an acceptance of the right relationship with God.  True joy is seeing the world and its people as God has created.  Joy is living in that sweet spot where every breath is a light onto eternity.  Should is a dangerous word because it invariably leads to disappointment.  Instead let us focus on the word “be.”  Lord, be thou my vision.  Shape my yearnings to Your will.  Instead of grasping at sky-high expectations let me be held in your presence.  Teach me how to be, simply truthfully authentically yours.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When is good enough, either, good or enough?

Lent 2012 A Clean Heart, Create in Me          C.S.Lewis
Tuesday, March13,                          Psalm 25:9

What are your intentions?  As you begin(or continue) your journey do you reach a point where you say, “ok we can stop here because I am and the situation is, and the world is “good enough?””  If you are a gifted athlete or musician or artist is there a point when your product is “good enough?” I struggle with this because I have confused my best with the best and therefore always diminish what has been achieved.  I don’t think an Olympic athlete has the phrase good enough in their vocabulary.  Yet there is a limit a threshold to any endeavor.  Do we settle for good enough when it comes to God because we do not believe that our best is enough?  Are we fearful of what thresholds we may breach on our journey with God? There is a famous quote that has been attributed to many people including: Nelson Mandela, but the author of the words below are actually from Marianne Williamson. 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You’re playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

So as we start(or choose to continue) to follow God, what are our intentions?  Are we willing to shine regardless of the cost?  Will we allow fear to convince us that we should settle for that which may or may not be good and that which may or may not be enough, because we feel safer in the good enough?  Lord, show me what you’d like me to become and paint the picture clearly so it will not be warped.  Show me the journey you would have me trek along and assure me that you will guide each step.  Let my heart be filled with the knowledge that, If my God is for me, who can be against me?  Help me never settle for good when I am being offered the best from God.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Who is this King of Glory?

Lent 2012            A Clean Heart, Create in Me      C.S.Lewis

Monday March 12, 2012                         Luke 4:28-29

Son of Man and Son of God.  Human and Divine.  Some say that Jesus is a great ideal, they do not even accept that he was.  They say that Jesus is a metaphor for good behavior.  I think C.S. is right we cannot be on the fence when it comes to the identity of Jesus.  Who he was, is and will be is at the center of our faith.  Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus will have a different set of effects on each person’s life.  We do not have to understand how Jesus is God and Jesus is man.  When we try to diminish who Jesus was, is and will be we are trying to exert our control over that which is uncontrollable.   When we categorize Christ, we are trying to set boundaries to increase our comfort.  When we categorize Christ we are trying to make Jesus an “only” or a” just.”  I wonder if we are doing this to connect ourselves more completely with Jesus or to distance ourselves from Christ.  Jesus asked, “Who do they say I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?”  This devotion is asking us to get off the fence and make a decision.  Who is Jesus to you?  What do your behaviors and choices say about who Jesus is?   In my opinion, it is not possible to transform our lives and our world if Christ is anything less than Son of God and Son of Man.  If Jesus was just a good teacher than it would take less than 2000 years for him to disappoint humanity completely.  If Jesus is only God than how can he have any understanding of humanity and how could he stand in for humanity to be or redeeming salvation.  However, the Jesus that is God and man is our salvation and the only hope we can have.  Lord, help me understand who you are and how you are.  I cannot hope to understand the total picture, but show me your presence, so that I have follow that light.

How can we be holy?

Lent 2012              A Clean Heart, Create in Me            C.S.Lewis
Sunday, March 12, 2012                            1Corinthians 10:12

I cannot lead myself to holiness.  Salt cannot make itself saltier.  But the word holy means that which is set apart.  However maybe we should look at it as those who have set everything apart.  The holy would be those people who have set aside striving, grasping and droning.  The holy would not be concerned with the benchmarks of the world and that idea of success and failure.  The holy would repeatedly give themselves over to who and what God has created.  That is why I think it is C.S. calls it a “terrible thing.”   In our society it is the height of success to know who you are and to be independently able to sustain that person.  How many movies have as their main plot point, a journey of self-discovery?  When a person discovers themselves it is categorized as the happy ending.  How can that discovery of who we are be the ending?  God created us in God’s own image for a reason for a purpose.  A call to holiness is not the destruction of self but the true use of what it means to be that creation of God.  A clean heart leads to holiness because we are able to throw away the clutter that this world tells us we must hold onto.  This holy journey causes a deeper change that goes beyond who we are to who we are to be.  We are not just creatures of our parents, creatures of an environment and culture, products of the chemistry of DNA.  When we choose to be part of this holy priesthood of believers we experience an explosion of what it means to truly be.  It is more than the sum of my parts.  I cannot lead myself to holiness and that is why I must listen to God over self and redirect my heart and life each day.

 Lord, constantly show me the way to you and through you so I can always be, the me you created me to be.  May I produce either grass or wheat, fig or thistle however I was designed  and turn my head from any destination that would not lead me into Your truth.  By your great Love, Amen.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I can see clearly now...

Lent 2012 A Clean Heart Create in Me     C.S. Lewis

Saturday, March 10, 2012                          Micah 7:18

WOW!  “Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the person who has done it.”  How amazing is our God?  One would think that this type of clemency would lead to a weak God, one that is continually taken advantage of, a silly God.  We are assured of God’s forgiveness; therefore we can go out and be as hideous as we want.  Yet, who has endured a steady look from God and not been deeply changed.  As a mom, I have a look that can see through most lies and discover what lies beyond, in my children’s lives.  This doesn’t prevent them from making mistakes but they have a deep sense that they will be held accountable for their choices.  Yet, God sees more clearly and understands more fully and still forgives completely, utterly.  God doesn’t always relieve the consequences of our behavior but continually offers us, a right relationship.  We are called to simply accept it and follow a God who loves us, anyway.  After all, God showed us to what extent God would go to forgive.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.
Amazing Love, how can it be?
That you my king, should die for me? 
Amazing Love, I know it’s true.
And it’s my joy to honor you. 
In all I do I honor you.” 
Amazing Love by the Newsboys

Friday, March 9, 2012

Moments in the Kingdom of God

Lent 2012              A clean Heart, Create in Me            C.S.Lewis
Friday, March 9                                              Matthew 21:43

I have difficulty believing that God would take away the kingdom without cause.  The scripture gives a clue, The kingdom will be "given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom."  And what are these fruits?  Are they the fruits of the Spirit: (links are from
  • love (agape);
  • joy (chara);
  • peace (eirene);
  • patience (makrothumia);
  • kindness (chrestotes);
  • goodness (agathosune);
  • faithfulness (pistis);
  • gentleness (prautes);
  • self-control (egkrateia).?  or something else?
  • Perhaps fruits of the kingdom are the products of those amazing mountaintop experiences where we know that we are living in the Kingdom of God right now.  It isn't necessarily what we can do when we find ourselves in the sweetspot of God's gracious presence, but what happens afterwards in the desert valley.  Maybe the fruits of the Spirit are symptoms and attitdes that come out of the Fruits of the Kingdom.  When we abide with God, something special is produced and the kingdom reaps the benefits.  A kingdom fruit may be a smile, a gentle nudging towards God, an unfettered outpouring of God-sized Joy.  A kingdom fruit is our simple response to God's initial love.
    The kingdom will be taken from us if we neglect and ignore it.  If we refuse to let it inspire and empower it, we will lose it.  If we are so focused on the world and its messages of brokenness and woe that we cannot see the brightness of the kingdom, we will no longer be children of the Kingdom.  Perhaps it isn't so much that God takes the kingdom from us, but that we choose to leave the kingdom.  When we refuse to be effective stewards for the kingdom of God, then God chooses someone else to have the opportunities that the kingdom presents.  Lord, help me remain a child of the kingdom.  Do not let me be led astray by other voices that are so numerous they seem to be true.  Let me know that when I accept a Clean Heart from you, it is one step in creating a stronger kingdom.  Do not let me be so swayed by the sins of humanity that I believe my small fruits are not beneficial.  Help me be one drop of water that will help quench the thirst of the nations.  Let me be  children of light that lives in your eternal kingdom now and forever.  Hold my hand lest I wander away, for I seek to abide with You and in You.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012


    Lent 2012           A Clean Heart, Create in Me      C.S.Lewis
    Thursday March 8                                                     Jeremiah 17:5

    If you depend on me, rest your full weight upon me; I will crumble.  It is because I embrace what it means to be human that I can promise you that if you rely on me alone, you will be disappointed.  However, seek that divine spark in me, fan it and nurture it and be surprised.  Recognize that God purpose that drives me and impossible dreams will come true.  To quote a Casting Crowns song “not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done; Not because of what I’ve done; but because of who You Are.”  C.S. Lewis reminds us, “It is equally natural for us to see the person who helps us without seeing the Christ behind them.”  Hence is the origin of disappointment.   He says that it is “madness not to recognize the Real Giver.”  It is false humility to debase ourselves to the point of believing that we are nothing but sin.  It is the height of arrogance to believe that we are solely responsible for any success.  It becomes madness when we fail to recognize the basis of all life, the Real Giver.   We need to recognize the One who spoke all life into being and then called it good.  It was not good because of us, but in support of us.  Lord, let us grow in maturity.  As we remember that we are but frail beings of dust who are here but for a moment, let us also be strengthened by the fact that we are not alone.  You have empowered us with Your Love to act as the Body of Christ to be a part in the redemption of the world.  While we may disappoint the world and its people, we will never be a disappointment to You when we choose Your Way.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    If Our God is for Me then who can be against me

    Lent 2012   A Clean Heart, Create in Me      C.S.Lewis

    Wednesday  March 7                                   Matthew 25:45-46

    Disconnect.  Disconnect.  What does the scripture have to do with the devotional?  I agree with the statement, “SERVILE FEAR IS the lowest form of religion.” Blind slavery to an unfeeling unmerciful tyrant of a God is the cruelest form of devotion.   But what is C.S. trying to say?  I think that the scripture is talking about us serving the least and the last and the lost.   I think that the eternal punishment is us realizing all the opportunities we had to work with God for the transformation of the world and all the times we chose something else.  A cosmic size: DOH!  Those that are living in right relationship with God are already living in that eternal life.   C.S. Lewis chooses to focus on the issues of heaven and hell.    

    I have read Rob Bell’s Love Wins.  In it he discusses his understanding of Heaven and Hell.  This spawned all sorts of discussion and disagreements and response books.  I believe that we create our own hell that starts right now and we can choose to stay there forever.  I also believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is now and we can participate in it fully now.   I love that Lewis says, “The soul that has once wakened, or stung, or uplifted by the desire of God, will inevitably (I think) awake to the fear of losing Him.”  But this seems like an incomplete faith.  Even if I think that I can do something that will so estrange me from the presence of God that I am lost, God does not abandon me.  Part of the freedom of salvation is the assurance of God’s presence no matter what.  Hell is when we choose to deny that presence.  Heaven is when we seek to live in that presence. 

    The fear that Lewis talks about is a belief that we can lose God.  I would rather focus on fear being a deep knowing of God that inspires us.  Knowing that God is essential to abundance, growth, happiness and hope is what helps us devote ourselves daily to our spiritual journey.  God is not about loss but healing.   Dear God, may my fears diminish and never stand in my way of pursuing Your Will.  May my confidence in your steadfast love, inspire me to take risks for the kingdom.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen

    Lent 2012     A Clean Heart, Create in Me   C.S.Lewis
    Tuesday March 6                                            Matthew 23:11-12

    This devotion at first seems to skip the issue of pride.  I was expecting those mighty to be struck down so I could humbly dance.  And then C.S.Lewis drops this bomb: "God wants you to know God's very nature: God wants to give his very self to us."  Pride and humility is not about our position in the world but our right relationship with God.  A right relationship with God  may mean that we sacrifice dignity. According to 1 Corinthians 3:19:" For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, "He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness."  A right relationship with God is a relief from the need and stress of achieving success in the world's system.  Humility is putting the needs of God's will and God's people before our own.  What I thought was Lewis missing the mark was actually him hitting the bull's eye with brevity.  Lord, help me change my focus so that I am not filled with pride but with a healthy respect for you.  Each day help me move closer to a right relationship with you.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    With a rebel yell, we cry more! more! MORE!

    Lent 2012  A Clean Heart, Create in Me  C.S.Lewis
    Monday March 5                                   Daniel9:9-10

    Ol' C.S. quotes John Henry Newman to help us understand that we are not merely disobedient 3 year olds or pierced and tatooed adolescents but we have taken up weapons to rebel and fight against our God.  I hadn't considered our behavior that extreme before.  No wonder cleansing our hearts will be compared to death.  We have made self-reliance, self-determination and independence our platform.  We must lay down our weapons and submit.  OW!  It goes against all of my learned beliefs, save one.  I believe that God has my best interest at heart.  I can submit because I believe that God will take care of me.  When I stop my tantrms and my rebellion I can receive all that God has imagined for me.  When I realize that I am that beloved, it is easier for me to release the strident alarms of my ego and rely on the expertise of a big living God.  When I look back on these paragraphs and see all the "I"s, it is the perfect symptom of this problem.  Instead of more, more, more, I need to hope for less.  Lord,
    Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
    Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
    Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
    Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
    Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
    Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
    Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
    Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
    Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
    Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
    Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
    Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee. let this song be my prayer.
    )Words: Fran­ces R. Ha­ver­gal, Feb­ru­a­ry 1874.
    Music: Messiah, Lou­is J. Hér­old, 1830; ar­ranged by George Kings­ley)  Amen.


    Lent 2012  A Clean Heart, Create in Me  C.S.Lewis
    Sunday, March 4                                        Genesis 15:5

    How many people are in your family?  If we consider our family of birth, our family by marrige, our family of friends, our family at work and play, our church family, our faith family, and the family of humanity are we truly innumerable?  7,026,173,100 is the population when this blog was written.  How can we be innumerable if I can find a number to quantify us?  God promises that Abram's descendents will be more plentiful than the stars in the night sky.  Okay so maybe we are counting generationally. 107,602,707,791 people are estimated to have ever lived on earth, so again is this innumerable? 
    Perhaps God's promise to Abraham is bigger than data and statistics.    How often has numerical growth led to suffering? C.S. tells us that this blessing is about suffering and redemption healing.  "All nations will be blessed by God's chosen people."  Perhaps this blessing of God is where numbers fail us.  We cannot count or even begin to understand where the seeds of God's promises and blessings will land and flourish.  Perhaps the point is that we are not to try to count.  I think when we get caught up in counting we start to compare.  
    How often are churches judged by the size and scope of their ministry?  Is this scripture the source of this practice?  Maybe we sound concede that God's chosen people and their blessings are innumerable are get on with being a blessing to all nations.   

    If you're not for me

    Lent 2012  A clean Heart, Create in Me   C.S. Lewis
    Saturday, March 2     Matthew 5: 44-45

    Love your enemies.  Three simple words.  A lifetime to master.  I have tried this and seen some amazing changes... in me.  Anger and enemies is mostly about self anyway.  We hold on to the anger and resentment that creates an enemy.  Can we maintain that anger when it is met by grace?  And what do we have to be so angry about?  Lewis slaps us in the face with those survivors of the holocaust that forgave their tormenters, the slayers of their families, the rapers of all that they considered sacred home. 
    When I get angry I try first to change my breathing.  Then I focus on giving the injustice, the hurt, the wrongness to God and praying for the strength to leave it there.  Then I seek to find something positive to pray for with my enemies in mind.   At first I devise prayers that were retribution for the wrongs I had perceived.  For that person, that drives me crazy, I prayed that God give them patience.  I knew that God would give them situations where they had to develop patience.  I giggled at what "I" had inflicted.  When I matured a little, I prayed for my enemies safety and deliverance.  For the impossible driver who cut me off, I prayed for them to arrive safely becase obviously there was some emergency that I was not aware of and they needed God's protection to make it wherever they were going.  But then I sounded haughty, like I knew better.  So finally I have settled on asking to be part of God's will either because of this situation or in spite of this situation.  By praying myself out of the center of this struggle, the angry energy dissipated and I found myself forgiving as (in the same manner) I would like to be forgiven.  I had not changed the reasons and people involved in my struggle, but I had changed.
    And as for that saying: "either you are for me or against me,"  well I'd like you to consider gravity.  It is by definition, a force that acts against us every moment of our lives and yet, we would not have an atmosphere, or the ability to move without it.  Maybe our enemies are teaching us how to breathe and allowing us to be strong enough to move. 
    Dealing with our enemies is similar to cleaning our closets.  How can we have a clean heart with dirty packed closets?  So, a clean heart, create in me by helping me love my enemies.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Our Best Effort

    Lent 2012 A Clean Heart, Create in Me  C.S.Lewis
    Friday, March 2                                                            Matthew 5:20

    Mom always said,"Honey, all your father and I want is for you to try your best and we will be proud of you."  But if you keep improving and growing how can you ever know when you've done your best?  In my youth I felt I could never do enough to earn their pride because I couldn't understand the difference between my best and the best.  I was on a sliding scale where noone would or could share the scale with me.  Now C.S. Lewis sets up the same no-win situation in being good.  Ewww.  He suggests that we keep on trying so we can know more and more how much we need God. 
    Because of this, I choose to respond to this scale in a similar way to Jesus.  When someone said, that Jesus was good, he responded, "Why do you say that I am good?  No one is good except my Father in heaven."  (Mark 10:18, Lke 18:19) That doesn't let me off the hook for my behavior, but it does give me the freedom to understand and rely on God's grace.  I know that I will fall short of all that I can be if I only rely on myself.  However,  by relying on Jesus I can get off of the hamster wheel of trying to earn grace, and be free of the stranglehold of legalism.  I don't have to worry about trying to exceed the scribes and Pharisees (teachers and judges of the law) to enter the kingdom, I will throw myself on the mercy of Christ. 
    By the way, now that I am a mom myself, I understand better what she meant when she told me to do my best.  She was asking for effort that was commiserate with the situation and the leading of God, the model of Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Still it's a lot to ask, but at least with God, I know that anything is possible. 

    Death as a Kindness???

    Lent 2012  A Clean Heart, Create in Me
    Thursday, March1st   Happy New Month!           Psalm 138:8

    Does repentance need to be a burden?  Are these trials a necessary evil that must be endured?  C.S. would say definitely, yes.  As usual I both agree and disagree.   There are those that believe that all trials are given to us by God to sharpen us and  show our never ending need for grace.  While I believe that God will use all events to the good of those who love God, I cannot recognize a God that rains pain on those who love him in the name of our good.  We are the ones that turned from God and chose sin over joy.  We are the ones that brought these trials upon the world.  How dare we blame God for our sinfulness?  I do agree that "repentance is no fun at all," but I believe that the bringing death to our sinful ways is a kindness.  So these trials may instead be methods of healing, seasons of strengthening, and opportunities to show God's power, grace and love.  I will accept a kind of death to those selfish parts of me that keep me from all that God has created me to be.  Instead of grieving those losess, I will seek that kind death that brings me into new life.  Lord, help me grow closer to you through my repentance.  Let each of these thousand little deaths be a kindness.  For where there is less of me, me, me there can be more of You, my king.