Thursday, January 31, 2008

Strength that Endures

"We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul- not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bring and beautiful that he has for us." (Colossians 1:11-12, The Message)

As I've shared here before, I read those verses for the first time while sitting on a hospital bed, waiting to go in for surgery.

When I read those verses I had no idea how much I would hold on to them and see truth revealed over and over again. The only thing I knew at the time is that it was very significant and God was most definitely speaking to me through it. What He was saying, I wasn't sure then.

Two and a half years later, those verses are still speaking.

They spoke to me after the surgery when the pain was so intense that I counted down every minute to my next dose of morphine.

They spoke to me when my body was filled with infection from that surgery and I was so sicker than I've ever been in my life.

They spoke to me during my six month recovery, through many re-infections and the process of building up my strength.

They spoke to me when less than a month after I was healed from that ordeal I was told that I might have to go through it all again.

They spoke to me when I was healed of that cyst and would no longer require yet another surgery.

They spoke to me when my energy started draining, my joints started hurting and sleep became less frequent.

They spoke to me through a doctor's diagnoses and my struggle to accept what having sleep apnea really meant.

They spoke to me through over 365 nights and counting of darkness, praying for sleep when none would come.

They spoke to me through over 365 trying days and counting, attempting to function with the world when all I want to do was crawl into bed and stay there.

They spoke to me through many "I don't know" diagnoses and attempts to figure out what was wrong.

They spoke to me in the gut-wrenching situation I'm working through. Losing someone I love dearly, who is techically still here, but emotionally so far away.

They speak to me now at 2:30 am while the world sleeps and I keep glancing at the clock, exhausted, but unable to shut down. Still having no answers as to what is going on and what I can do to make it better.

So what do those verses say? They say a lot.

They say that God gives us strength beyond our wildest imagination. And He doesn't do it all at once. Just when we think we're running low and can't make it any farther, He fills us up to press on.

They say that joy comes even in the midst of sadness. That light can still be found in the darkest night. And that His peace is never far away.

And they say that God sees beauty in our pain. Like the master painter, He's shaping our life canvas one brush stroke at a time. Sometimes the places He paints or the colors He uses don't make sense to us, but He sees the whole picture. And one day we too will see that beautiful creation called our life story.

Until that day comes, I've choosen to hold onto those verses and trust this great artist who I've come to know as my best friend. And as the years go by, I know more than ever that He is worthy of my trust.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Different Perspective

Today I received a copy of "The Word on the Street" by Rob Lacey. For those of you who are not familiar with the book, it's a paraphrase of the Bible, but with more of an urban flare to it than "The Message".

Tonight as I was browsing through it, I already found myself being refreshed by the words. Sometimes a different perspective on the same text can make a big difference. Consider Isaiah 53:1-6:

"Who would credit it? Who'd have foreseen this plot line in God's liberation story? He grew up vulnerable as a sapling in a concrete yard. Not especially attractive; nothing particularly regal about him: he didn't stand out in a crowd, your Mr. Average. He was dissed by most, given the cold shoulder by many. There was a sadness about him. You could see in his face that he was on personal terms with grief. People blocked him out, verbally abused him, didn't rate him.

But whoa! Step back a sec! Weren't those our weakness he took on? Wasn't that our sadness he carried? But we were convinced he'd been rubbed out of God's good books, punished by him, held down by him. How wrong can you be?! He was messed up by our mess. He was knocked down for our slip-ups. The slapping we should've got- he got. And we got serenity instead. His punishment beating left him half-human and us whole and fully human. We've all wandered off like lost boys, all followed our own directions. And God's punished him for everything we've done."

While obviously paraphrases aren't study Bibles, in my personal devotions I have a feeling I'll be enjoying this one!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New Website

If you're really observant, you've probably noticed that there is a new link in the column to the right. It's for the site

Before I had another domain name set up for a website for my writing, but ran into tons of problems with the hosting company and to make a long story short, it was easier to start over than fight it out with them.

So I registered a new name and with it set up a new design. There's not a ton of content there. But I plan on using it as a place to keep people informed about what's happening with my writing. And if you visit you can see it's also a place for people who stop by there to be re-directed here for this crazy thing called a blog.

So if you have time, give it a looking over and let me know what you think. I'm open to suggestions :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Taking Onesimus Back

The book of Philemon is really small. So small in fact that you can't help but read it in one sitting. And it's a different book of the Bible because it reads more like a personal letter than the other books of the Bible do (well at least is does to me).

But the message of Philemon is very important. You've got a slave named Onesimus whose name literally means useful. But this guy hadn't been too useful to Philemon. In fact he took off and deserted him. The circumstances around his running away isn't clear. But what is clear is that Onesimus has had a change of heart. He's come to know Christ and he wants to do the right thing and go back to Philemon.

So Paul writes Philemon and asks him to take Onesimus back. Not just as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. Now no where in this letter do we know what happened after Philemon received Paul's letter. We don't know how he responded or if he took Onesimus back. But what we do know is what's expected of us in similar situations.

I don't know what your life is like, but right now I've got a 'Onesimus' in my life. Someone who messed up royally. Has done hurtful things. And doesn't have the greatest track record. But now they are looking to come back.

That leaves me in a dilemma. Do I choose to forgive and trust, knowing I could very well be hurt again? Or do I put an arms length distance between myself and this person?

If Paul's letter to Philemon is any indication, I've got no choice but to accept this person back as who they are- my sibling in the Lord. And how could I not? Because chances are one day I'll be knocking on someone else's door, needing grace extended back to me. And when that happens I can only hope that the person on the other end has the same grace and love as Paul had for Onesimus. The same grace and love that Christ has for me. And the same grace and love that I need to have for everyone who I cross paths with, deserters or not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


It's only Tuesday (well I guess now it's technically Wednesday), but it feels like it should be Friday. Usually Monday and Tuesdays are my busiest days, but this week they were plain insane!

Yesterday I worked an 11 hour day between work, radio show, and ministry stuff. Today was 14 hours with only a break to cook dinner and eat. Yeah that's right, cook dinner.

It's no secret that I don't usually spend time in the culinary arts, but that's changing. It started two years ago when I found out I liked to bake and no one got sick from what I made. Today my Mom was out and I knew she didn't have time to make dinner, so instead of falling back on leftovers or kraft dinner, I decided to make something real. It actually turned out pretty good and I'm discovering that I do enjoy spending time in the kitchen.

I guess it's about time. It's pretty sad that at 24 my Mom still makes my dinner. In my defence though, our house could nearly be classified as a restaurant. My Mom spends most of her days in the kitchen and not only feeds us and two other family members, but often sends meals out. But I still should take the time to learn a thing or two from her...

So while today was crazy busy and I was doing a lot of juggling, it was good. It's a great feeling to be able to go to bed, even if it's later than I'd like, knowing that I did get something done. And I'm very grateful that I get to do what I do on a daily basis. I may not be able to be in school right now because of my health situations, but somehow by the grace of God I still get to do so many things that I love.

I'm blessed and I'm very much aware of that tonight.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Food for Thought

Lord, by this sweet and saving sign,
Defend us from our foes and thine.
Jesus, by thy wounded feet,
Direct our path aright:
Jesus, by thy nailed hands,
Move ours to deeds of love:
Jesus, by thy pierced side,
Cleanse our desires:
Jesus, by thy crown of thorns,
Annihilate our pride:
Jesus, by thy silence,
Shame our complaints:
Jesus, by this parched lips,
Curb our cruel speech:
Jesus, by thy closing eyes,
Look on our sin no more:
Jesus, by thy broken heart,
Knit ours to thee.
And by this sweet and saving sign,
Lord, draw us to our peace and thine.

Richard Crashaw, English Poet (1612-1649)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jotting Thoughts

Suddenly I feel this overwhelming desire to write and it's a great feeling. For the longest time that desire was very suppressed. Trying to complete school while keeping up with work and ministry, all while having limited energy because of my sleep problems meant that at the end of the day (or night) I had nothing left to give. But now that I'm out of school for the time being and I've got my own little office set up, so I'm free to write into the late hours of the night without bothering anybody and it's great. And I am excited to write.

Write what? I'm not quite sure yet. I do a lot of writing for work, which is great. I write devotionals for the radio show. But I want to write more than that.

I've been toying with a novel idea for a few years now and it suddenly seems like the right time to start putting words down on paper. I don't know if it will ever progress into a full-length novel or if will sound as interesting on paper as it does in my head, but I'm trying it out.

I'm also flooded with material for a workshop that I'll be putting on next month and suddenly it's looking like there's potential for much more beyond the workshop. So I'm collecting information, jotting thoughts, and seeing where that road is leading.

These words I write may go no further than the four walls of my office. But to me it doesn't really matter. I'm doing something I love and I'm doing it with absolutely no pressure. There's no deadlines or teachers or editors waiting to read what I write. There's just me, God, and a keyboard. I'm taking risks. I'm going further than I've gone before and it's an exhilarating experience.

Words are good.

"Paul didn't know where he was going, but he did know why." (Erwin McManus)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ushering In The New

It's another new year. With a new year brings new challenges, new obstacles, but also new opportunities for joy.

As I look a head into 2008 I can see many good things coming my way. I'm pumped up to be leading a workshop for teens at a ladies retreat in February. This summer my brother, Mom, and I are heading out on a killer vacation. And between work and ministry, I've got a lot of things to look forward to.

But at the same time, there are challenges a head. My sleep (or lack thereof) is still a huge problem- one that doesn't yet have an answer or solution. And I'm facing a situation right now that is spiralling out of control and the only thing I can do is learn how to let go.

But in the midst of the good and the bad I'm reminded that we serve a God who is very consistent. A God who loves us very much. And a God who offers us a loyal love with no comparison:

"'For the mountains may depart and the hills disappear, but even then I will remain loyal to you. My covenant of blessing will never broken,' says the Lord, who has mercy on you." Isaiah 54:10

In 2008 I hope to, above all, get to know this loving and merciful God better. To experience more of the richness and joy that can be found in even one moment with our loving Saviour.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My Soundtrack of 2007

So 2007 has come to a close and as a way of looking back, I thought I'd do something a little different. It's no secret that music is a huge part of my life, so for each month of the past year I'm posting lyrics from a song that really resonated with me during that time. Some fit the circumstances I faced perfectly. Others were songs that provided me with hope and peace. And others just spoke loudly at the moment. Enjoy.

"Raise our glasses to puzzle pieces
And the way they fit together
We never saw till now.
Here's to questions that need their answers
In the bright light of hindsight
Will all become clear somehow."
Tara Leigh Cobble- Here's To Hindsight

"A child is but for so long
Turn around those days are gone
Nothing can replace the years of youth
I have swallowed lies that tasted true
The plans I thought were sent from You
When all You wanted was for me To be still

The burning in the heart
Of man’s deepest desire
Is rising like a flame
The burning in the heart

Of our deepest desire
Rising like a flame
Burning higher and higher
Burning in the heart Of our deepest desire
Is to know You"
Phil Joel - The Man You Want Me To Be

"She would change everything,
Everything just ask her
Caught in the in between
Of beautiful disaster
She just needs someone to take her home."
Jon McLaughlin- Beautiful Disaster

"One eye on the clock and one the phone
It's 5:19, I'm feeling alone
If I could talk to you, I'd want you to know
That holding loose, ain't letting go."
Matt Wertz- 5:19

"I hate feeling like this
I'm so tired of trying of fight this
I'm asleep and all I dream of is waking to you
Tell me that you will listen
Your touch is what I'm missing
And the more I hide I realize I'm slowly losing you
Comatose, I'll never wake up without an overdose of You."

Skillet- Comatose

"As he begins to raise his voice
You lower yours, grant him one last choice
Drive until you lose the road
Or break with the ones you've followed
He will do one of two things
He will admit to everything
Or he'll say he's just not the same
And you'll begin to wonder why you came."
The Fray- How To Save A Life

"I’m on the brink of disaster
Staring down the consequences
To break heart would be better
Tonight I’ll do what it takes to fail
I’m going there only faster
Jump the gun and throw it into gear

But the fact of the matter
I’m out of control asleep at the wheel
Asleep at the wheel
Out of control asleep at the wheel

Night falls with no grace
I said I can do anything
But I can do anything wrong
And with burning speed the rear-view says
it’s catching up to me
But I’m already gone."
Mae- Brink of Disaster

"Now that it's all said and done
I can't believe you were the one
To build me up and tear me down
Like an old abandoned house
What you said when you left
Left me cold and out of breath
I felt as if I was in too deep
Guess I let you get the best of me.

You took a hammer to these walls
Dragged the memories down the hall
Packed your bags and walked away
There was nothing I could say
When you slammed the front door shut
A lot of others opened up
So did my eyes so that I could see
That you never were the best for me."
Daughtry- Over You

"I never thought you were a fool
But darling look at you
You gotta stand up straight
Carry your own weight
These tears are going nowhere baby

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And now you can't get out of it"
U2- Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of

"And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on...
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches

And your heart, it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on"
U2- Walk ON

"Kind of funny how a life can change
Everything gets re-arranged
Nothing's ever going to be the same
Day after day, page after page."
Paul Wright- 5th and Broadway

"Was I there for the worst of all your pain?
And was I there when your blue skies ran away?
Was I there when the rains were flooding you off your feet?
Those were My tears falling down for you, falling down for you
I'm the One that you've been looking for
I'm the One that you've been waiting for
I've had My eyes on you ever since you were born

I will love you after the rain falls down
I will love you after the sun goes out
I'll have My eyes on you after the world is no more."
Disciple- After The World