Month: March 2019

God is in the acronym business. Who knew?

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Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

Have you ever noticed that the first letters of “ask, seek, knock” spell “ask”?
Ask
Seek
Knock

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

During the course of church activities this past weekend, it occurred to me that with even very little initiative/effort/desire on our part in terms of seeking God’s plan for right now, for studying the Bible to gain fresh insight and assurance – I guess that is part of what is meant by faith the size of a tiny mustard seed – God’s answers/works/rewards (unseen and/or tangible), by comparison, happen in such great measure!

It is as if He is saying to us, urging us, reminding us: “I don’t expect you to get all the way to the Throne right now without step-by-step guidance, nor to reach the entrance of the ‘holy of holies,’ nor even to meet me halfway. I just want to know that you are at all interested!”

He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine – be that something big or something little (Ephesians 3:20). Don’t we tend to think that this verse speaks primarily of our “asking big” – asking the most we can possibly imagine – and then seeing answers HUGE as a result of God’s ability to provide? But it also reminds us that “all we ask” may be as minuscule as a momentary prayer thought or as moderate as an indefinable, persistent (though possibly erratic) kind of inner yearning that we cannot even describe or express!

Minuscule, moderate, or monumental: whatever the “size” of our spiritual lack and longing, we have the Best waiting, eager, and able to answer it. All we need do is to respond to His invitation: Ask. Seek. Knock.

This is the season of Lent, leading up to Holy Week and Easter observances. Even if it weren’t, is there a more prime opportunity than right now to evaluate how seriously/eagerly we are seeking Him as the Answer to our dissatisfactions and whether we are honestly desiring to be given our present “marching orders” as His servant?

Spring cleaning: sorrow disposal day

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It’s that time of year. Have you noticed? Our cities recognize that homeowners wish to do spring cleaning, so “household hazardous waste day” safe recycling events have begun to pop up on civic calendars. The next one for my area is April 13, 2019.

Paint cans and VHS tapes aren’t the only kinds of waste that may be hazardous if not disposed of properly.

I once ran across an old song that advised, “Go bury thy sorrow; the world hath its share.” If I stop reading right there, I disagree with the hymn’s author. It isn’t burying we need to do to our cares, questions, and worries. It’s excavating them and pushing our loaded wheelbarrow straight to the Throne.

Only the Father has all of the facts – as well as knowledge of the future! Everyone else we consult, have lunch with, exchanging messages with, read, listen to on Sundays or watch on television (be that Hannity, Oprah, or Joyce Meyer) is going to give us partial and temporary solace at best.

God is the Physician who knows what’s going on medically inside our bodies that neither we nor doctors may be able to ascertain. He is the Counselor who knows what details of our story it’s best to tell when and to whom. And He is the Prince of Peace who reassures us, “I have overcome the world.”

So, this spring let’s dispose of the things it’s hazardous to keep around. Let us bring those wheelbarrow loads, see the Father take them forever out of sight, and then stay at the Throne instead of turning right around and leaving. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” Isaiah 26:3

I’ll close with some lyrics that haven’t shown up in any hymnal yet:
I’m going to pray. I’m going to the Throne.
That’s where I’ll be, if someone needs to find me.
People are inviting me lots of other places,
Barking ads, talking trash,
But there is only one Help I seek,
One private path I want to be on, just me going straight to just Him.
One Voice I need to hear saying “yes” to this and “not right now” to that and “I still love you even if you didn’t hear me right the first time.”


The writer of Go Bury Thy Sorrow soon continues, “Go tell it to Jesus; He knoweth thy grief.” The author’s overall message in that piece is somewhat the same as mine here, though we could talk another day about her final line, “let others be blessed; Go give them the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest.” What’s your opinion? Do we bless others if we have a single-sided, outward message of “sunshine”? Hmm. I can see arguing both “yes” and “no” to that.

Where’d you get that?

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Let’s pretend it’s Christmas morning.
Or your birthday, or your anniversary, or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Or International “l LOVE COFFEE” Day!

You tear the wrapping off a little box and discover a $25 card to Starbucks. Delighted, you exclaim, “Yayyyy! I’ve been gifted with some coffee treats.” And you load the value of the new card onto your app, the remembered taste of a salted caramel latté already on your lips.

That’s one way to use the word gifted: as something that has come your way due to the action of another.

“I’ve been bestowed (with)…”

Bestowed, approved, accepted, allowed (as in allowed some privileges or some “points” toward a desired total)… all of these “-ed” words suggest a status or a state of present circumstance that comes from a source outside of you. You cannot write your own letter of acceptance into a prestigious institution of learning. (Er…let’s put it this way: you’re not supposed to.) That decision is made by other people.

Now, apply the same parameters to the words “gifted” and “talented.”

Maybe we should rethink our vocabulary here. The next time our friend’s son or nephew swings the bat and the baseball goes over the fence, say, “What talent he has been given!”

The next time that amazing soloist graces the audience with notes that make everyone wish they had ability equal to hers, say, “She certainly has been gifted.” (Instead of “She certainly is gifted.”)

Make sense?

Gifted and talented aren’t states of attribute that just happen to reside in us. They are cases of bestowment. Talents and abilities aren’t something we ought to be bragging about or “congratulating” others on – as if any of us has put them in ourselves or deserves credit for developing them and using them.

Just as we did not create our skin, our blood vessels, or our internal organs, we did not create our abilities. The Creator did that. And what we possess that blesses the world around us are possessions He gave to us.

We’ve been gifted.
We’ve been talented.
“You’ve been given such (a) great skin/hair/voice”
NOT
“You have such (a) beautiful…”
Often, it takes a new way of speaking to usher in a better way of thinking.

Sure, we have it. But the point is, how and where did we get it?

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

Bonus reminder! When encouraging/complimenting/admiring people’s gifts and abilities, let’s go further than talking about what they’ve been given. Let’s say a prayer for them. Ask God to guide them as they exercise their gifts; to lead them away from letting any endeavor become an idol; to alert them to those times when following passions for Him could lead to the neglect of more important priorities such as investing in their own family members.