Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Prayers Are Too Small – My God Is Too Small

We had a prayer meeting at church the other day during a leadership meeting. As I sat there I was moved by the many prayers for specific people in the church, community, and lives of the people praying. They really were beautiful prayers and I felt their heart as they prayed. Then someone came and smacked me upside the head. One of my brothers prayed a confession for all of us…he asked forgiveness for our prayers being too small and in turn making God small. He prayed that instead of us reaching a handful of people in West Seattle that the entire city of Seattle would know God and the entire nation would look on in disbelief! What??? Why would I pray for something so impossible?

My biggest prayer ever was that God would heal my dear friend Jeannie of cancer. I fully believed he would and to me that was asking the impossible, a true miracle. Why would I not have prayed that God would cure all cancer?

We had another prayer meeting the following night and again was struck by how limited and small I (we) pray. To be honest, lately I have been convicted about how small my world is, not in terms of prayer though. I was at the movie theatres to see an independent movie about food. I was in tears watching the previews! The first preview was for a movie called No Impact Man; my sadness was that I never even consider the impact I have on my environment. The simple things I could be doing to reduce my carbon footprint (by the way this is a new word in my vocabulary). The other movie was about an American Idol type series in Afghanistan called Afghan Star (http://www.afghanstardocumentary.com/). Here’s an excerpt:

But in a troubled country like Afghanistan, even music is controversial. Considered sacrilegious by the Mujahiddeen and outright banned by the Taliban (1996-2001), music has come to symbolize freedom for the youth. While the conflict still rages many of those taking part are literally risking their lives.

Our main characters reveal the true hopes and dreams of the Afghan youth, their desire for peace, education, and freedom to express themselves. 60% of the Afghan population are under 21, and despite the backdrop of conflict, corruption and repression they are funny, articulate and ultimately inspiring.

At that moment of watching these previews I was truly struck by how small my world is! I do not usually think much beyond what I see and experience. Paul David Tripp wrote in A Quest For More, “The little kingdom will quite regularly don the latex masks of outward participation in worship, obedience, and ministry. It will appear as though it is serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, when daily it is bowing before the throne of self. Driven by earth-bound treasures and anxiety –bound needs, its worship can only be the worship of self.”

More awareness of my little kingdom of me was revealed this week and I look forward to sharing that in another blog. For now, I am reflecting on what repentance should look like and how to move from my little world to the big world of God.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blessed To Be On Holy Ground

I had the amazing opportunity to hear about the suffering, shame, abuse and sin from some precious women this weekend. Although I shared tears and grieved with them, honestly it was really hard to not walk around all day with an immense joy and a big smile planted on my face.

My smile to most would seem out of place. There were tears, yelling, sobbing, and anger. How could I appear so content while so many women were bearing their soul and sharing secrets they probably never thought they would share? All I can say is Jesus, simply Jesus.

These women are beginning a journey that I have been on for several years. I get front row seats on their journey. I get to witness lives transformed as the lies about who they are and distortions about who God is are revealed. I get to watch as they behold the glory of God and enter into right worship with God, hearts aligned with their Savior. I get to sit with them as they identify their false idols and behold His glory and in turn His glory is reflected in their lives. I am blessed beyond measure with this privilege. Some might only get to witness this on occasion, I get to witness this every week, every season. I am truly honored and truly blessed to be right where I am, standing on holy ground.

I can stand with my sisters humbly and broken, weeping and rejoicing in their sin and suffering and be filled with hope as I know what Jesus did on their behalf. I do not have to wait for some future event; it has already been done, finished. I can fully expect on behalf of these women.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God hrough our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

As they realize they have been fully forgiven and completely cleansed for the sins they committed and the sins committed against them; fear, shame, and condemnation no longer have any power over them. There is more…they have been made righteous! Jesus pours His righteousness into us – we cannot do it on our own. There is nothing we can do! This is life changing!

Romans 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5: 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As exhausting and heavy as it is to hear so many women hurting in a great way, it is also exciting to know that over the next several weeks, they are going to see Jesus in a new way. The veil will be lifted in ways they never imagined, they will start to see with new eyes. They will begin to see their utter need for dependence on Him. How can I witness this and not desire to drop to my knees and worship when I behold His glory?

2 Corinthians 3:12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.