Saturday, April 25, 2015

treasuring and pondering

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)


What makes you the best version of yourself?  For me I think it has a lot to do with these two words: treasuring and pondering.  When I am taking time to ponder what God is doing within and around me, and to treasure whatever that may be--as well as, more importantly, treasuring the One who is doing these things--then I tend to be my very best self.  The word used here for treasure in the Greek is syntereo, which means "to attend to with great care."  It gives the impression that you completely realize that you're holding something of immense value in your hands (or in your heart), so you take the very best care of it you possibly can.  You marvel at it, you behold its beauty, you gaze upon it, you are fully captured by it.  And the word for ponder is symballo, which means "to bring together in one's mind."  It is to think deeply about, to reflect upon, to consider the value and the implications of.  The two really go hand-in-hand.

The saints and the poets throughout history have used different words and images to capture these two concepts, as well as to help us understand how to practice them.  Julian of Norwich once wrote: "Truth sees God, and wisdom beholds God, and from these two comes the third, and that is a marvelous delight in God, which is love."  And A. W. Tozer wrote: "Faith is the gaze of the soul upon a saving God."  Mother Teresa once said, "By contemplation the soul draws directly from the heart of God the graces which the active life must distribute."  And finally, author Marian Scheele once wrote, "When the soul is occupied by looking away from present trials into the face of Christ, and making this a regular and passionate occupation, this soul will become more tranquil and still, and therefore more able to reflect the Being it adores."

My guess is that how well we are doing at treasuring and pondering will directly effect the quality and depth of our lives.  Therefore the question becomes: "How am I doing at treasuring and pondering what God is up to within me and around me these days?"  Which then begs the question, "What is God up to within me and around me these days?"  Unless we make some time and space to consider these questions, and to treasure and ponder the answers, we will never really stand a chance of being the very best version of ourselves--the version that God dreamt us to be. 

And that doesn't just carry implications for us, but implication for those God has called us to as well.  We must be very good stewards of whatever God is doing in and around us because that very treasure is not only what God has given to nurture and feed our souls, but also the treasure he has given us to give away to those in our lives and world.  I think that's what Jesus was getting at when he said in Matthew: "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." (Matthew 13:52)

So today, let us all treasure and ponder.  Because as we treasure and ponder our great God we will find that we are the ones treasured and pondered by the One who loves us, treasures us, and delights in us more than we dare ask or imagine.  Thanks be to God!      

Friday, April 24, 2015

making room

What makes you the worst version of yourself?  For me I have noticed that it has a lot to do with room: making room, having room, occupying room.  I need room to breathe, room to move around, room to roam, if you will.  I need room to think, room to reflect, room to pray, room to pay attention.  I need room to be with Jesus, and I need to be with Jesus in room.  I need room to sit at his feet and to listen to what he says (Luke 10:39) the way Mary did.  I need room to allow his word to do its work deep within me. 

And when I don't have room, when I am crowded and pressured and hurried, it can get ugly inside really fast.  A sense of constant frustration is one of the early warning signs, but if I follow that down a little deeper I don't have to go far before I run into those familiar foes anxiety and insecurity.  I start to feel like life is living me rather than me living life.  Does that sound familiar?  Distracted, worried and upset?  Hello Martha.  And for me, hello worst self! 

The funny thing about room is that it doesn't just happen on its own.  You have to be intentional.  You won't just find room, you have to make room.  Maybe that's part of what Jesus was trying to teach Martha, that if you are not intentional there will be no room, and thus, no peace.

Last week this all played out for me.  I noticed that I had been living with a constant sense of frustration.  And them came the anxiety and insecurity.  A sleepless night or two.  Demands and expectations began getting the best of me.  It was a slow, subtle thing, the kind of thing that sort of sucks you into a way of being without even noticing it.  And then it occurred to me, "I need more room.  I've been spending my time with Jesus, but I haven't been specifically making room to sit at his feet and listen to whatever he might have to say.  I've been distracted.  I've allowed circumstances and worries to dominate my heart."  And as soon as I began making more room in my day to sit and listen to the One who calls me his Beloved, perspective began to return, frustration began to fade, and life began to come back into my soul once again--driving out the fear, the anxiety, the insecurity, and the frustration.  My circumstances had not changed, but I had.  Thanks be to God.  Pray that it will stay that way.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

better

     As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
     “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)



I am coming to the conclusion more and more that God wants my affection much more than he wants my activity.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

it is finished


     “It is finished.”  Jesus’ final words.  And what incredible words they are!  “It is finished” means that the entire reason Jesus came to earth has been fulfilled—his mission has been accomplished.  There is nothing else that needs to be done.  Jesus has taken care of it all.  All of our sin has been paid for in its entirety: past, present, and future.  All of our punishment, every single ounce, has been placed upon him at the cross.  “It is finished” means that we are totally justified—clean, holy, and free.  “It is finished” means that our sin is taken away, we may go in peace.
     But “It is finished” also means so much more than that.  Because “It is finished” is not just about what God has taken away, but also about what he has given us.  Jesus not only takes all of our mess—our sin, our brokenness, our death—upon himself, but he also gives us all that is his to give.  He gives us his righteousness, he gives us his holiness, and he gives us his peace.  He also gives us all of the love and affection of the Father.  He gives us his inheritance, he gives us his place in the family of God, and he gives us the right to become God’s beloved sons and daughters.  So “It is finished” not only says “you may go, your sin is taken away,” but it also says, “you may come and enjoy all of the intimacy of the Godhead.”  Because of the cross, this is now what God says to us: My child, my delight, the joy of my heart, I wish you knew yourself the way I know you.  I wish you saw yourself the way that I see you.  And I wish that, deep down in your heart, you knew the truth that, because of the cross, all I have is yours and all you have is mine.  Knowing this one truth at your very core will change everything about you.  Now, all of my love is yours, all of my affection is yours, and all of my delight is yours.  In fact, you have completely captured my heart.  And not only that, but you also have all of my righteousness, all of my holiness, and all of my purity.  Everything I have belongs to you.
     And all that you have is mine.  Your joys are mine and your wounds are mine, your strengths are mine and your weaknesses are mine, your gifts are mine and your inadequacies are mine; so are your insecurities, your anxieties, your fears, your struggles, your burdens, yes, and even your sin—all mine.  Come to me, my child, with all that you are, and let me give you all that I am in return.  Be mine.
 
(This is from my book Being with Jesus.  You can order it here if you are interested)
 
Have a great Easter...He is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!!!