Friday, April 30, 2010

By and Through Him Eternally Connected

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms"

The following poem is reprinted with permission from the author;
 Lora Lovin Osburn, Poet Laureate extraordinaire!

When asked if I'd share a dotty ditty
My first thought was, "Oh no! What if it's not pretty?"

What if it's like what I heard in Houston? Purse on a Chain...
Oh my, I can just imagine the disdain.

What if I stand and say: I'm Lora from By the Lamp Light
I can't speak because I'm too insecure and filled with stage fright.

So started my conversation with the LORD
About sharing here, something I thought I abhorred.

LORD, YOU know my knees will knock.
And then, Oh my - What to wear? Capri's or a new party frock?

I'll be just one lonely dot at this Siesta party,
And You know LORD, I am not a smarty.

My heart started racing in a thousand directions
Without seeking HIM with thoughtful reflection.

So in my mind while I'm walking to the podium and taking a tumble,
In quietness at night, I heard Him speak like a distant rumble,

"Read the book and then just tell your story.
I will do all the rest and get all the glory."

I knew immediately which book He meant for me,
Beth had been smiling from the shelf at Walmart (somewhere near aisle 3)

He said, "Dear One, I'm bringing other dots
Tonight to this party, to this very spot.

Don't be insecure and think you are alone
Among the many dots, you can feel at home.

As each lovely dot connects
And views the other with respect,

A lovely picture they will see
The body of Christ in Me.

I've brought each dot on their own journey to this very place,
An act of gracious mercy and abundant and tender grace."

But LORD, I so want to know the final picture.
He says, "Rest, don't speculate or conjecture.

You may not know in full your earthly destiny

But will you dear one, just rest in ME?

As I direct, in faith, go from dot to dot
The journey with Me is part of our story plot.

Hold our time together dear.
Be attuned and ready to hear.

Do each thing I ask you to
Don't question; just do.

I will be with you when your life looks like it has no purpose or form,
When you feel discouraged, one dot, alone and forlorn."

So as I read, at times I thought it was my own story written upon the page;
But God graciously and tenderly took me through the journey, stage by stage.

When I read about those who "never fulfill their destinies because of their own insecurities",
It was like God drew the circle clearly and solely around me.

I would recommend this book to anyone; but along with a tissue box
Because it's not a fairy tale, like The Three Bears and the trespassing Miss Goldilocks

Our enemy too long has encroached on our holy ground,
And as dots we unite and say "he is no longer welcome to hang around!"

This book required action, change and work
And I'm certain, it is why so long, I avoided it with a shirk.

As dots read it and do it, we are changed.
No longer a single dot, but in His plan we are already eternally arranged.

The tears and pain this book unearthed,
I am confident, are fertile soil for His new works to be birthed.

Because deep within me as sins were uprooted, I know,
That as I released insecurities, HIS Spirit within me did grow

The freedom and the joy of saying so long to insecurity
To some of the *things* that for years have tormented me,
And made me feel like one isolated and totally disconnected dot
Has brought me, us, each dot, here tonight, to this very place and spot.

Dearest Jesus,
We turn our fears into
Send each dot through Your cleansing wash where our sin turns to passion
And insecurity is totally washed out and no longer in fashion
We pray, that more of You we will intimately know
As on our dotty path, with Your security now, we go.
Connect us LORD,
as the unified body of Christ,

And help us be willing to make personal sacrifice.
The enemy CAN NOT take what we've been given

So in the Mighty Name of Jesus we say,

"So long insecurity and hello abundant living!"


Thursday, April 1, 2010

You Took my Place

A few Easters ago, my family and I were joined by some bi-annual church going friends for morning service and a brunch to follow.  The parking lot at church and sanctuary were running over as they  usually are at Christmas and Easter.  Once inside, the service was incredible as the Holy Spirit seemed to fill the deepest crevice of every heart.

A bit later as our group met up at the restaurant for brunch, the following conversation took place:

"What an incredible service, the music, the worship, the message, one was better than the next"  started one Church Regular.

"And the crowd?  Good grief that was insane trying to get in and out of the church not to mention the parking lot" added Bi-Annual Number One.

"Yah, the parking was brutal. Your church members were pretty aggressive when it came to getting out of there.  I almost got hit and ran over by several anxious to get to lunch I guess", replied Bi-Annual Number Two.

"Yah" with laughter Bi-Annual Number One chimed in, "and I bet they had that little fish symbol or better yet," haaa, haaa "a whole school of little fish on their bumper".

The Bi-Annuals were having some fun now.

I asked our guest how were they so sure it was the regular church membership behaving so poorly and not some folks like themselves of the twice a year crowd? 

That led us into a conversation about Believers can't claim perfect, just salvation by God's grace and anyone claiming to be otherwise is admittedly a hypocrite.

Sadly, I had to concede, we as believers all too often set ourselves up for such criticism when we brand our bumpers, t-shirt and handbags, mistakenly believing no one should hold us to a higher level of accountability, when they really should.

Believing friends, you may have read the following story before, even so, with another high attendance Sunday upon us, take another look.

One day, a man went to visit a church. He got there early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up near the driver got out and said,

'I always park there! You took my place!'

The visitor went inside for Sunday school, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated,

'That's my seat! You took my place!'

The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday school, the visitor went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said,

'That's where I always sit! You took my place!'

The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still He said nothing.

Later as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change.

Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out,

'What happened to you?'

The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye, 'I took your place.'

When you read this, say a prayer.

Ask the Lord to circumcise your heart, that you may yield to the Holy Spirit's urgings as we get too centered on self and cease seeing the greater good and glory God might reveal through us in these situations.

Instead of focusing on self, focus on Him; then share a smile and give gentle answer and shine your Light that whole world all may see Him in you!

He took our place!

Hallelujah, I'm so glad He did!

            Happy Easter!

"The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live"    Deuteronomy 30:6