Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hearing Love in the Silence

I have fifteen minutes before I need to leave for work... I have no makeup on, but hey, I'm tired of wearing makeup anyways.
As you probably already know, I work in a classroom with 4 students. These 4 boys have autism. This is my first year working with them, and I love it. But what I'm about to write about, although it was inspired by them, applies to each of us, in every relationship we have.

You know that Winnie-the-Pooh quote, where Piglet asks him how to spell 'love' and he replies that 'You don't spell love, you feel it'? Well, I would take that to another level. It is really important to many people, including myself, that I hear the words "I love you" on occasion from the people who are closest to me. It really can help me through the day, and I think you will all admit to the same need or want. But here's the thought that I would like to suggest: We don't say 'I love you', we show it.

You may not know much about autism, or you may know alot, but this is one basic understanding for you: They do not show appropriately show emotions. Which means, unless you have trained them to say it, you'll never hear the words "I love you" from them. When you do, it usually means nothing (except, perhaps, 'give me an M&M'). So, working with these students has been one HUGE lesson in depending on Christ for my intake of love. I wrote about it here. But I've realized recently that they do, in fact, express affection.

They may never say it out loud, or decide independently to give you a hug, hold your hand, or bring you flowers like typical 2nd grader. But if you open your eyes, and open your heart, you'll see it. That moment when he reaches up and rubs one of your curls between his fingers until it frizzes and knots. That moment when he unties your shoes, steals your water bottle, or closes the book you opened, just because it makes you look at him. That moment when he panics because you walked away when he wasn't paying attention, and he looks around frantically for you. That moment when he remembers your name, and adds "Miss" to the "Cortney" because he wants you to give him a piggy back ride (and somehow figured out you like it when he says that). That moment when he is listening to a story and takes your hand.... and picks off your fingernail polish. These are the moments that he SHOWS how he knows you, needs you, even loves you.

But look at your life. Who is it that you wish would say it more often? Your husband? Your wife? Your teenager? Your temperamental 3yr old? Your grandparents? Your parents? 

I dare you to stop and open your heart. 

They know you. They need you. They love you. Their life will SHOW it, even when they don't say it. 

Let us also endeavor to intentionally show our love for those around us. Hear what scripture says, about our relationships in the light of the Gospel.

Romans 13:8  Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Galatians 5:13  For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
1 Peter 1:22  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Megachurch Megaprayer Megacall

For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
(Romans 14:11 ESV) (A quote from Is 45:23)

This past Sunday I was visiting a delightful church up in New Hampshire, while staying with some friends. It was kind of a mega church, but only by comparison to my sweet little church. They did their announcements by a cute prerecorded video, had a huge stage with 2 mega-tron screens on either side, and the children's workers were in full Medieval costumes. Above us on the sanctuary ceiling hung the national flag of every country in the words. On the walls was depicted the name of the Lord in many many different languages.The worship is where the differences really hit home. The music was excellent, with many talented musicians, but the songs were pretty typical CCM. You know the kind, where they repeat the same two lines over and over again, until it sinks in and you realize you had been tuning out the meaning for the first 3 minutes. Yeah. The kind of song where the words are truth, but there isn't any explaination. For example, "God you are a good God, you are so good to me". Oooohhh, thats some good stuff right there... ;-) Sorry to tease. I was chuckling (alright, laughing) during this song, because of its simplicity. But I had to allow that the words were truth, and although they were somewhat repetitive, it wasn't blasphemous to sing along. In fact, if it weren't for the truths in the hymns I know from my own church, I would never understand the feelings that are being expressed in these newer songs. I understood the feeling conveyed because of what God had done.

Then it started to dawn on me. The people and nations represented in the flags that waved over my head have likely never been told the truths I had learned and understood, about the Gospel. They had never counted their sin, fell at the foot of the cross, or felt the freedom of a lifted burden.

And yet, they would fall. As the next song played, I was nearly blown over by the realization that EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW, including those who never have before... EVERY TONGUE CONFESS, although they never had before.... And when they do, it will no longer be a choice, and there will be consequences for not living a life bent under His reign.

It moved me near to tears and I sat, scribbling these thoughts frantically in my notebook. I ended with a desperately whispered prayer, "Lord, send me to tell them!"

TGIF and Water

This Friday has been one that ended with me waving goodbye to my kiddo's on the school buses while simultaneously shouting "freeeeeeeeeedooommmmm!!!" under my breath... Our mantra here is  "Love with all you have; Laugh at all the things that don't matter". I am realizing more and more that all I have isn't enough. I need so much more, for the people around me, including but not limited to the kiddos. These people have so many needs, and don't necessarily give back. I'm realizing that when I pour into other's lives, it leaves me desperately dry. I am a cracked vessel, and couldn't stay full if I wanted to... My mom shared a quote from one of her radio preachers (I forget who it was): "The only way to keep a broken vessel full is to keep it unter the faucet." How true I have found this! Within the first month of working with these kiddos, I was as dry as a bone. What a necessary lesson for me to learn, and how thankful I am that I know where the Living Water comes from!

I may walk through firey trials that lick up what moisture is left, or I may find myself in a barren land, parched to the core. I may wander, lost in a valley of confusion, or press forward like a runner in a race. In all these, I will end with nothing if I do not keep myself hydrated by His grace.

Learning more about Him, who He is and how He cares for me; this is how He keeps me full. He leads me by still waters, when I meet Him in the quiet garden. He pours down rain of fellowship on me when I am pressed, rushed, and torn. It is Him, the Lord my God, who sets me up and leads me on.

Lord, let me never forget that it is You who gives this living water. Forbid that I ever seek water from another. Let me not grow faint in thirst, but keep my cup running over.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Who is He?

On my way through both Joshua and Mark, God is showing me how His Word displays His nature and His character.

   "The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below." Joshua 2:11

 "And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." Mark 1:11

 "He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God." Joshua 4:24

 "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17

 "So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Mark 2:28

 "But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” Mark 2:10-11 

 "Take off your sandals, for the place you are standing is holy ground." Joshua 5:15

 "When His family heard... they said 'He is out of His mind.'" Mark 3:21

 I'm not done, but will keep you updated :)