Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prayer - Who's Talking?

Richard Foster in Prayer, Finding the Heart's True Home writes:

"Prayer takes place in the middle voice," writes Eugene Peterson. In grammar the active voice is when we take action, and the passive voice is when we receive the action of another, but in the middle voice we both act and are acted upon. We participate in the formation of the action and reap the benefits of it. "We neither manipulate God (active voice) or are manipulated by God (passive voice). We are involved in the action and participate in its results but do not control or define it (middle voice)."

Prayer fascinates me. We, the created, are able to communicate with the Creator! The significance of that is rarely considered when we enter into prayer with a group.

Here’s another quote from Foster’s chapter on The Prayer of Rest.

P. T. Forsyth writes, “When we speak to God it is really the God who lives in us speaking through us to himself… The dialogue of grace is really the monologue of the diving nature in self-communing love.” How incredible!

I agree – how incredible!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sweetness of Knowledge

Knowledge without love is like cocoa without sugar.

If knowledge is intended to be a medicine for healing and correcting,
a spoonful of love helps the medicine go down.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Love Like God

Love teaches us to reorder our desire to that which gives life
and away from that which brings death. ~ Don Sizemore, LCSW Interweave

God calls us to love others but we don't have to like them. Have you heard that statement? I’ve never really understood it.

If I don't like someone, it's very hard – if not impossible - to love that person. Did God create people and say, Oh man, I don't like him but I'll love him enough to send my son to die for him?

The like or dislike I have for someone or something has a lot to do with my personal desires. I want people to act or respond in a way that is desirable to me. If they don’t, I don’t like being around them. God’s love is not like that. Some of you are reading this and saying another one of my pet peeve phrases: love the sinner, hate the sin.

If I truly love "the sinner," and I sincerely believe the wages of sin is death, what am I doing for that person to give him life? If my sin ("everything that does not come from faith is sin" ~ Romans 14:23) were hated by someone who loved me, what would I expect them to do to keep me from receiving the wages I've earned?

Genesis mentions two trees in the Garden of Eden. One was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The other was the tree of Life. Love is teaching me to be quick to listen and slow to speak because the sweetness of life is a lot more desirable than cold, hard knowledge.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:22-24

Sunday, July 20, 2008

God Likes Me and You

He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Psalm 18:19
de·light (noun) - to have great pleasure

Think of someone who gives you a sense of delight. That's how God feels about you! Isn't that cool?

My daughter asked me recently if I would rather have children or not have children. This was a good day so I think it was out of her contemplating whether she wanted to be a parent - not out of "mommy, do you wish I weren't here."

I easily and quickly responded I would rather have children. There is a love and a delight in being a parent that far outweighs the frustrations and the grief. I don't enjoy having to discipline them when they have willfully disobeyed. But I do enjoy watching them learn and grow and develop into the person God desires them to be.

The greatest delight is when my children are enjoying each others friendship. Hmm, I wonder if that is God's greatest delight too.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Name Sake and Fire Insurance

For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Psalm 25:11

Maybe it was just my self-centered perspective, but I'm pretty sure I was led to believe that I needed God's forgiveness for my sake. You know, the fire insurance that keeps me from going to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The problem with that, my sake is not much of a sake to live for. Meaningful life, life to get excited about, must have a sake beyond me. Otherwise, it would not have mattered if I never came into existence.

In seeking God’s forgiveness for my sake, I don’t recognize how my sin – the self-guided actions against God’s intentions for me – affects the one who created me and all the world around me.

For the past 19 years I’ve been enjoying a personal relationship with Christ. When my self-centeredness kicks in, I’ve found it’s much easier to live in relationship with Christ than to live with fire insurance.

With insurance I have to make sure my policy is up to date. I have to follow all the details to be sure I receive the benefits when I need them. Living with Christ, I don’t need insurance. I have his assurance that he is with me always. He’s not an agent who shows up to settle a claim on a policy covering the things I own.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Psalm 24: 1-2

I don’t own anything – not even myself. I’m a dependent on Jesus' plan.

When I seek forgiveness for my sake, I tend to just dump all the “bad” stuff I’ve done in one bucket asking God to get rid of it like a bag of garbage. Oh sure, I say “I’m sorry” but what I really mean is “ok, take this stuff away so my insurance will be effective.”

When I seek forgiveness for his sake, the experience is far different. Over the past few months God and I have been sorting through those bags of garbage. Yes, he took them from me for my sake but he’s been holding them for his sake.

I’m seeing now how my sins affected him more than me. I’m no longer sorry because of the risk of going to Hell. I'm sorry because I sense the pain of hurting one who loves me. I also experience a true restoration in a relationship with the one who desires to give me all the benefits of life right now for the sake of his name.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. Philippians 2:9

My name may be engraved on a tombstone some day. His name lives on forever. I like living for the sake of his name, not mine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. ~Psalm 62:5(NRSV)

I am convinced more and more that faith, hope, and love are not things we can produce within us. As the Psalm above says "hope is from him."

As much as I would like to spend hours upon hours trying to figure out the mysteries of life so that I may find, possess, and explain hope, I cannot.

"The message of hope..." writes Thomas Merton, "is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God: but that...God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons." (Richard Foster, Prayer, p 160)

It is freeing to recognize that hope cannot be found in books or words of the greatest preachers. I can give the reason for my hope, but I cannot give you hope. Hope is an experience far greater than an intellectual conclusion reasoned out by facts.

Look again at the "message of hope" in the quote above. What joy, peace, and comfort to know that whatever is going on in my life, God the Creator of everything loves me. He is present in me. I am his place of residence. He, the Creator of everything, speaks to me! He keeps me for himself - he doesn't toss me aside as meaningless. I am a valuable piece in his collection. He offers me understanding that is beyond my ability to give to anyone else. He requires nothing of me to make this hope exist. And the experience comes simply from being open to him.

Hope is not about what God does for me now or in the future. Nor is it about what I must do to acquire peace or the treasures of life. It's all about who he is - the relationship he initiates and desires to have in me.

He alone fills me with hope right now. His hope sustains me throughout the day.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. ~Psalm 37:7

Oh Lord, you are my everything. May the experience of hope you give me motivate my thoughts, actions, and words today.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Night and Day

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2

Formless and empty.

I held out my hand to try to imagine "nothing". That which was in my empty hand had no form.

Yet there was darkness - nothingness - and there was also the Spirit of God in the midst of that darkness and emptiness.


And God said, Let there be light and there was light. God saw that the light was good and he separated that light from darkness. God called the light day and the darkness he called night." Genesis 1:3-5

And here God provided the way for us to see him - before man existed, before the sun and moon were placed in the sky.

The Spirit of God was now distinguishable from emptiness - as clear as night and day.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thoughts and Beliefs

We must assess our thoughts and beliefs
and reckon whether they are moving us closer to conformity to Christ
or farther away from it.
~ John Ortberg

Do you believe what you think you believe? Seems that I argue about what I want to believe. I live out naturally, with love, what I sincerely believe. Funny how love keeps me from intentionally offending or becoming defensive.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Everything and Nothing

Lord, what do you want from me?

Have you ever asked God a question not really expecting an answer - at least not right away? My question was sincere. I ask it quite often and generally expect God to reveal things to me in a very slow process, one step at a time. This day was different.

Everything and nothing, was the response I heard. Everything and nothing? What does that mean?

I don’t have a complete understanding yet. But here’s where I’m at so far.

complete surrender and submission,
full and consistent dependence with every breath;
body, mind, and spirit given to God for his good purposes

none of what I do will be by my own human strength;
it’s not my efforts if I’m dependent completely on God’s divine power.

To be fully human and one with God – this is the gift God offers. Jesus provided the way and showed us how to give everything and nothing.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who… made himself nothing. ~ Philippians 2:5-7

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. ~ John 5:19

Monday, July 07, 2008

Changing the Face of Hunger by Tony Hall

“Thousands of severely malnourished Ethiopians had made their way to Alamata and surrounded the compound, hoping for food and medical treatment…. ‘I have to pick six or seven kids that we can save…' Most of the rest of the starving would die within days.”

The reality of this picture will either cause you to read on or give you the desire to set the book aside and ignore the truth of what is happening outside of your comfortable life.

Tony Hall, a political leader and man of faith, describes his experiences with the poor and hungry around the world. He also offers hope and encouragement of how we can all work together regardless of differences in politics and faith to feed the hungry.

Hall also shares his successes of finding common ground with enemies of the US to get food into their countries and over borders to those starving. “Jesus teaches us to feed hungry people – even our enemies.” Hall says, “I believe that’s also good foreign policy.” Many bags of food are stamped in the local language with “Donated by the people of the United States.” This impacts hungry children and parents who have been taught that the US is an evil enemy.

While in Calcutta, Hall commented on the problems of the world being so vast and asked Mother Teresa how we could possibly hope to solve them all. To which she responded “You do the thing that’s in front of you.” This lesson carries throughout the book and made a big impact on me.

The experiences shared are not only in foreign countries. Hall reveals that poverty and hunger – although not usually to the point of starvation – is very much an issue in the US. The encouragement comes from his perspective of American’s response to New Orleans after Katrina.

Hall points out that the poor are often unseen in our cities. “…to see children falling asleep in class because they don’t eat well, to see parents and children living on the street, you have to go look for them.” But when they are discovered, as in the aftermath of Katrina, American’s respond with compassion. “When you … connect with them and educate them and they see the problems themselves – they don’t turn their backs… We are a compassionate people, a giving people.”

After sharing two decades of experiences around the world, Hall reminds us that none of us has to solve every problem. We just have to do the thing that’s in front of us. “That’s all we have to do to wage an effective fight against hunger and poverty and oppression around the world – do what’s in front of us.”

This is not just a book to open your eyes. It is a call to action. The Appendix offers a brief summary and contact information for two dozen national and international organizations fighting poverty and hunger. Whether it is responding to a friend or neighbor in need, contributing financially to one of these organizations or packing up and working with an organization away from home, together we can change the world.

Some 11.1 million people in the USA, including 430 thousand children, live in homes which experience hunger. Every day, almost 16,000 children die around the world from hunger-related causes—that’s one child every five seconds. (

What will you do to Change the Face of Hunger?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Community in Christ

“My brother is rather that other person who has been redeemed by Christ, delivered from his sin, and called to faith and eternal life. Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community. What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 25)

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Question and scripture references from The Way of Agape by Chuck & Nancy Missler p.33

Why does God allow trials in our lives?
Read: Deuteronomy 8:2-3; Psalm 107:25-28; Acts 14:19-22

If the Kingdom of God is not here and active now, Paul’s statement “we must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” would not make a lot of sense. If “salvation” means believing Christ died then sitting comfortably waiting for the transit system to the Kingdom, then hardships and suffering would be a cruel punishment. God is not cruel.

There are two kingdoms present and active. The kingdom of Satan is fighting to keep the Kingdom of God from being built up.

Sometimes God leads us into a desert to make us hungry for him. Sometimes God afflicts us to remind us we are not strong enough in ourselves to live without him.

Sometimes Satan sends the attacks against us as part of the war of the kingdoms. He will always fight our efforts which are intended to benefit others and build up the Kingdom of God. Therefore, our source of strength and our battle plans must be from the stronger power – God.

God does not leave us at these times. He is with us offering his peace, comfort, and strength to get back up when we’ve been wounded in the war of the kingdoms.

I’ve experienced all three of these examples of suffering. Sometimes I’ve turned away from God in anger. Sometimes I’ve been so weak in my hungry for truth, I’ve almost given up searching for him. God has always been faithful. He has comforted me in my times of grief and shown me that He is all I need. He has opened my eyes to my attempts to be judge and ruler over my life. And he has strengthened me when I’ve been wounded in the battle.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Friday, July 04, 2008


If you’re not rejected at least three times a week, you’re not really trying.

I have the above quote tacked on a cork board in my office. It came from something intended to encourage writers. It caught my eye recently as I was sitting with God pondering the unusual amount of rejection I’ve encountered regarding my perspective of life and God.

Writing is basically sharing what we see, either as witness to facts or our imagination. According to Acts 1:8, after receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be witnesses of Jesus.

We know not everyone is going to want to hear our ideas of Jesus. Scripture is clear that we will be persecuted and rejected. For most of us in the western culture, we assume that means those in foreign countries who are not free to worship as we do. Or maybe it refers to the minor blows to our ego or finances that occur in this country.

The rejection I’ve encountered over the past 2 ½ years has come from Christian leaders. It drives me to deeper questions of what it means to be a Christian and more specifically, a Christian leader.

I love William Young’s dialogue between God and the main character in The Shack. I don’t remember which person of the Trinity Mack was talking to but God basically says “Jesus is not a Christian.” It seems many who claim to have a Christian faith are trying to be “Christian” more than submitting to Christ. I’ve been guilty of this myself.

Looking back at the interesting confrontations of the past couple years, I’ve discovered that my attempts to be fully submitted to Christ causes friction with some Christians – or should I say “religious leaders.” Funny, that’s who gave Jesus the most trouble too.

In John 15:7, Jesus says “if they persectued me, they will persecute you.” So, as a follower of Christ, if I’m not rejected by religious leaders regularly, I’m not really trying. Well now, that makes rejection sound quite positive!

This post is intended to encourage those experiencing rejection from well meaning Christian leaders. It is not meant to condemn those doing the rejecting. Those who have rejected my ideas have not questioned my relationship with Christ. None of us fully understand yet and I just happen to be one that likes to explore the unknown. Therefore, being a Christian is not defined by what I do, it is defined by who is in me. Romans 8:9 “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

Whether you are rejecting others ideas or being rejected, remember this:

The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Shack by William Young

This was one of the most thought provoking novels I’ve read. It did not give me new concepts of God as much as it put words to the concepts I have so often tried to express. Now I see why I am so quickly misunderstood.

I’d love to do my own in-depth review but since there is enough out there, I’ll just comment on a few reviews I read.

One online reviewer stated, “There are other teachings about the Trinity that concerned me. For example, Papa says ‘I am truly human, in Jesus.’ This simply cannot be true… this is not taught in the Bible. Overall, I had to conclude that Young has an inadequate and often-unbiblical understanding of the Trinity.

I strongly disagree. I believe this perspective is visible in the Bible. However, I would agree that it is not taught in most western churches.

These same churches will tell you that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is One and we worship only One God. Therefore, why would it be incorrect to state that God (the Father) is truly human in Jesus? If they are distinctly separate, then we worship three gods.

The reviewer also disagreed with Young’s perspective of submission which I discussed with my husband shortly after reading the book. The Greek term translated as submission refers to "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

Our western culture prefers to apply the military slant which is "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". Interestingly, this is where the Jewish leaders parted ways with Jesus. They wanted the Messiah to bring military submission. Jesus instead brought an attitude of giving in (considering others better than yourself), cooperating (being one Body), assuming responsibility (different workings for the common good) and carrying a burden (Jesus carried our burden and also the burden of God).

Jesus prayed in John 17 that those who believe in Him will be one as He and the Father are one. The only way to accomplish this is through all believers submitting with the attitude of Christ found in Philippians 2. Jesus is in very nature God – but he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Why? I think there is a lot more to that statement than Jesus didn’t fight God’s will.

From my perspective, it has more to do with relationship. Jesus knew that as God in very nature, he didn’t have to prove himself. He chose to limit himself to human nature. He chose to rely on God the Father. And, God the Father equally relied on Jesus to do what only he could do in the flesh. The Holy Spirit was the significant link between the two. William Young does an outstanding job of picturing this relationship. I love his portrayal of the Holy Spirit and the mystery with that character.

My challenge to you is to read this book with a sense of adventure. Be willing to look at truth from a different perspective. I’m not asking you to change your perspective or turn from truth. Simply suggesting you allow the gift of fiction writing to broaden your perspective of a God who is far too big for any of us to fully understand.

If you are one who has a negative response to The Shack, I challenge you to use the same measure of judgment on your own perspective of truth. Do you believe what you believe because the Holy Spirit taught you or because a fully human person with a Christian label influenced your thinking? Scripture is God’s Word. The Holy Spirit is to be our counselor of that Word.

Here are a couple of good posts on The Shack:

Crosswalk - A Gentle Balance to the "Shack Attack" by David Burchett

LifeStream blog - Is THE SHACK Heresy? by Wayne Jacobson

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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