Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spilling Over: I Am Rich


Father, this morning I am thankful, utterly thankful, that you allow me to enter your Presence. The words enter his gates with thanksgiving, enter his courts with praise are far more than words to me.
I think about the enormity and density of coming into your Presence—of me a simultaneous sinner and saint—and I am silently overwhelmed.
Father, for so long I searched and looked to find something good and something real. I looked to find something far greater than myself. But I did not find something. No, you found me. I did not find you. You found me. Lost and meandering. Directionless and clueless. Empty and starving.
You found me.
I consider all the times I have failed, all the times that surely I must have disappointed, the many ways I could have chosen you and I didn’t.
I grieve the years I squandered and wasted. I regret all the times I judged others even though you showed me great mercy. I rue the times when I viewed someone else’s perspective less valuable than my own. I lament the times when I saw someone angry and reacted in like manner. I sorrow for being like the priest and Levite and walking on by the wounded, fearing to get my own hands dirty.
But today, this day, I am thankful because you didn’t dismiss me from your Presence. No, you did the opposite. You said, Come into my Presence and I will enable you to make good choices. I will lead you to what will prosper you. I will give you the strength to do things differently. I will change the heart of stone in you; I will make it tender. I will make it flesh.
And this sweetness of You drew me.
Praise you for your goodness to me. Thank you for your faithfulness that knows no end. Thank you for your patience with and for me. Thank you for your long-suffering toward me. Thank you for your love—the depth, the width, the height and the length of it—because you extend it to me daily. And I am rich.

Thank you.

Amen

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spilling Over: Bulletin Boards


I am amazed by so many things; I am so thankful that through all of my years of corruption and waywardness somehow God has preserved in me this wonder over the smallest of things. I have been enthralled by babies’ births and anthills and bumble bees. On a daily basis I usually find something regardless of how simple to interest me, some thread of seemingly nothing to someone else.
On our refrigerator we have two bulletin boards. They are white boards with a cork inset and a black magnetized marker attached. My third daughter bought these back in September and they have been on the bottom of the fridge door ever since. No one in the house would consider moving them. These boards are two of my favorite things in the house.  
Why?
They aren’t used to remind us of calendar events or daily chores or grocery lists.
These boards are used to remind us of who we are.
Really, Tamera, aren’t you being a little over dramatic? (Who would dare accuse me of such a thing?)
Seriously.

I’ve only written on these boards twice since they arrived. My youngest daughters, who still live with us, fill the white space with black letters. They are the ones who do most of the messaging, and I always know which one because their handwriting is so distinct.
I am so grateful.
These boards are erasable, but the messages are indelible.
These boards hold messages: scripture verses, quotes, song lyrics and notes. To me. To Steve. To each other. To themselves.
Reminders.
Beautiful reminders of the truth God desires for us to remember about him, about others and about ourselves.
Some mornings I stand in front of the refrigerator and laugh. Right out loud. Sometimes I need to sit down on the stool behind me, floored by the insight before me. Sometimes I just stand in the middle of the floor and cry because of the vulnerability and transparency.

These girls know how to encourage. They know how to bolster someone’s spirit—not with flattery, but with honestly raw words. They know how to turn a word or phrase so it exhorts without ever being pushy or overbearing or sappy.
The length of the messages varies. The intervals between new messages fluctuates. One message may remain for a week. A message may be three words long or it may start on one board and spill over to the other.
Last night when I got home one of the boards said—

Hope unswervingly


Today I am thankful for bulletin boards.
Today I will attempt to live out those four words. I am reminded of my motivation and my purpose.
Partly because of four words written on a white bulletin board on our refrigerator.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Spilling Over: As Iron Sharpens Iron


I sat here tonight and wondered how to narrow and compress into a few short paragraphs the many things for which I am thankful. How do I distill all the richness of my life into such a short space?
I didn’t even know where to begin. So, I just started with the immediate: what I was thankful for within the sphere of where I sat. And as always when you are thankful for three things you find gratitude for thirty.
Tonight I am thankful for dinners prepared together. For warm blankets and chocolate chip cookies from the oven. For light falling across floors and the hum of the furnace. For the tick of the clock and the spin of the washing machine. For the muffled snores of a dog long old. For the turning of thin book pages and the power of reading glasses. For the phone ringing and familiar voices speaking.
Tonight I am thankful for friends. Honest, real friends. People we do life with. People who share life with us—the good, the bad and the ugly.
I am so thankful for these people who know our weaknesses and do not exploit them. People who know our strengths and do not abuse them. People who help keep the edges of us sharp. People who help us maintain a keen awareness of what the Spirit is speaking. They sharpen swords with us, not against us. They are people who care about the integrity and character of us. These friends stick closer than a brother. They hurt with us. Cry with us. But most of all they rejoice with us. You see, it’s not quite as difficult to grieve with those who are hurting as it is to rejoice with those who are prospering.
I am thankful for the sharpness of our lives. This sharpness is directly related to the people who do life with us.
People in our lives who are iron.   

Father, tonight I thank you for the strength of the iron in my life. Thank you for all the couples who  sit in each other’s living rooms and kitchens and sharpen each other. Thank you for these friends who have loved us through hard places, tight places, dangerous places and abundant places. Thank you for the iron in them that sharpens the iron in us.  Thank you, Father. Thank you. Amen.

 

 

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spilling Over: The Word



I love words. As if that is a new revelation to you who are reading this post. I do. I have favorite words. I avoid words. I have a list of taboo words: said, that, pretty, cute and it (this is just the shortlist)

Since I was a little girl reading the encyclopedia I somehow understood that words were so very important, but rarely insignificant. Valuable, but often cheap. 
Words are full of potential and pregnant with power. Words can be weapons. Words can be surgical implements of healing. Words can be tools of construction and destruction.
Words cannot be retrieved once said. Once voiced they cannot be withdrawn. Words can hold life and death. Physically, emotionally and certainly spiritually. 
What I am so very thankful for today are the words in Scripture. They hold life.  
They hold life.
I am full of thanks-giving that the Mighty God of the Universe chose to talk to me through these life-words. His written word. He left me words—words that I might know him. Words that I might experience him. Words that I might know blessing. Words that I might know instruction. Words that I might know salvation.
Through his words I have come to life. I, who once was dead, am alive because his word told me salvation was available to all who asked. I, who once was sin-burdened, am free because his word told me that the Son came to free the captives. I, who once was condemned, am pardoned because his word told me Jesus paid my penalty. I, who once was lost, am found because his word told me Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
I am thankful for God’s word because it fills the dehydrated, emaciated, empty parts of me.
I am thankful for God’s word because it soothes the raw, torn and bleeding parts of me.
I am thankful for God’s word because it disciplines the rebellious and contentious parts of me.
I am thankful for God’s word because it encourages the timid and cowardly parts of me.
I am thankful for God’s word because it exposes the dank, dark parts of me.
I am thankful for God’s word because it reveals the motives and inclinations of me.
Today, this day, I am thankful for the written revelation of God’s beautiful, full-arching, far-reaching and all-encompassing plan.  I am thankful for this word left for me—this living, active word, sharper than any double edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
 
Galatians 5:11-6:8 in my NIV Study Bible
 

Father, your Word has literally been life to me. In the midst of ugliness and squalor your words have been beauty and richness. In my poverty your words have filled me with wealth. In my weakness your words have filled me with strength. In my famine your word has nourished me.  In my confusion your word has offered me clarity. In my despair your word has given me hope. In my anger your words have been my steam valve. In my sorrow your word has comforted me. I bless you. Oh, how I bless and praise you that your words have been for me, and I hold them dear. All the words on the thin skinned pages of my Bible you meant for me. They were meant to show me you. Thank you, Father. Oh, I thank you. Amen

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spilling Over: Noni's Boys

 (They are not exclusively my boys. Many, many others love them, but indulge me for today.)
 
Elijah David

Judah Nathaniel
 
E

veryone warned me. Many people explained that there would be no experience quite like this one. Several people even told me it would be the best thing in my life.  Not quite a year and a half into the journey I agree with them in many ways.
Grandchildren.
In my case this grandchildren phenomena arrived in the bundles of two little boys born in September 2012. Elijah arrived and then Judah. I wrote about both of them when they were born and have written about them since. They provide more writing material than I could ever use. And my world has never quite righted itself.
Apparently it is quite acceptable for grandmothers (in my case Noni) to be terribly biased: to believe their grandchildren are the most beautiful, to think that their grandchildren are the most intelligent, to determine their grandchildren to be the most advanced and to just know their grandchildren are the sweetest and cutest. I am no exception.
Yes, I am that kind of grandmother.
Oh, how wise our good Father is. He knows what will soften our hard hearts. He knows what will smooth the edges of our jaded attitudes. He knows what will readjust the warped planes of our minds. These beautiful little boys have changed me, and I am so thankful.  
How have they changed me? Too many ways to count or tell. Their influence in three areas must be measured exponentially.  
Prayer.  At least one day a week I keep each of the boys while their mamas work. I anticipate those days. Wednesdays and Fridays are my favorites.  About midmorning on these days Elijah and Judah grow very tired, and I get to rock them to sleep. While their sweet eyes grow heavy, and their breathing evens and lengthens I lean my head down to their sweet little ears and I pray. Their eyelids lower slowly and I just keep praying. Their eyes close completely and I just keep praying. Whispering hope on these little boys. Pleading grace on these someday men. Speaking peace on their now gentle spirits. When their great big little boy bodies grow limp—legs and arms sprawled across my lap—my prayers slip into praise. As I peer down into their little faces—skin unblemished and smooth, lashes dark against their cheeks, sweet lips lax in deep sleep—I am overwhelmed. Overcome.



 
Purity.  As we grow older we forget what it means to be pure. To not yet be jaded and cynical. We forget to look at the world as brand new. We no longer remember what it is to see snow for the first time, to hear the deep woof of a dog for the first time, to taste blueberries for the first time, to understand the concept of hot for the first time. Often when the boys are here, or I am with them, I simply watch them. I try not to interrupt them with my words, but observe their innocent purity. Their beautiful eyes are so full of light. My protective instincts poise ready; prepared to strike if anything endangers that innocence.  Watching them helps me to remember God has called me to be pure of heart like Elijah and Judah. He doesn’t want me to look at people and the world with a skeptical cynicism. He wants me to see this world in wonder. Eyes wide. Mouth open. Hands outstretched.


 

Pleasure. Elijah and Judah teach me to enjoy life. They remind me to savor this daily living of mine, to relish every moment, every detail regardless of how insignificant it may seem. These little boys understand pleasure. They relish food as it was meant to be—popping blackberries and blueberries in their mouths and saying, “ummhh”. Elijah and Judah have both been taught to be gentle. Their sweet hands brush your face in a downward stroke as they watch your face. They give open-mouthed kisses generously and their heads lay on your shoulder or chest—sometimes with arms wrapped around your neck—in a pulling-the-heartstrings hug. These little boys laugh with abandon. No inhibitions. No curbing the volume. And when they belly laugh I come unglued. The flyswatter and Noni swatting crazily at flies caused raucous fits and chortles with Judah. Noni’s version of the big bad wolf blowing the little pigs’ house down caused Elijah to throw back his head and chuckle. These little boys are good teachers. They gently remind me of how often I neglect this gift of pleasure God has given us. I forget that laughter is such good medicine. I fail to remember how affection can be healing.


 


 

Today, on this Thursday a week before Thanksgiving I am thankful for Elijah and Judah.

Father, I bless you and praise and thank you today for Noni’s boys. For Elijah and Judah and the richness they bring to my life. Thank you for how they have expanded the capacity of my heart. Thank you for the reasons  they give me pause—to wonder, to gaze, to laugh, to enjoy, to ponder and to breathe. Thank you, Father, for these little boys who will become men.  My mouth cannot speak what grips my heart. Father, there are no words for this heritage I see in Elijah and Judah—this continuing of generations and family. Father, I am undone when I see Elijah and Judah’s mamas’ faces in theirs. Father, there is no ability in me to fathom what your plan holds for them. But I ask, I pray, for you to carry all you have planned for Elijah and Judah to completion. Thank you. Thank you. Amen

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spilling Over



Colossians 2:6-7 NIV
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:6-7 The Message
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well-constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

 

Eight Days until Thanksgiving. Do you have these days counted out and counted down? My guess is not. I didn’t until today.
This national holiday was once a major event in the United States, but now is often overlooked and neglected and relegated as the interim between Halloween and Christmas. It seems to be a token holiday, an archaic tradition that no longer seems quite relevant. Let’s eat turkey, watch football and fall asleep on the couch.
Let me make something crystal clear right now. I have NO problem with eating turkey (it’s not my favorite, but there’s always other options), I have no issue with watching football (it’s not even on my radar, but it is on my son-in-law’s and for him I’ll try to figure out what it means to be on the something-something yard line), and I most certainly do not have a problem with napping on the couch (especially if I am tucked into my husband’s side under a fleece throw and my own eyes are closing).
Hopefully we are clear that I am not bashing some of the “sacred” traditions of Thanksgiving.
But these are by-products of a holiday meant to help people, a nation, to remember. This holiday was a holy day set aside to help us revisit the struggles and provisions of the year past. Thanksgiving is not just a day in November; it should be a statement in our lives. Thanksgiving Day should be a day to celebrate what we have been doing all year—living out thanksgiving for the blessings, the provision, the comfort, the care we have received.
My guess is you will read and hear a great deal about being thankful over the next eight days. You will be coerced and shamed into expecting more out of November 28, 2013 than turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole and (God forbid) an uninterrupted nap on the couch.
For the next seven days I want to remember.
In Scripture this word does not simply mean to call to mind. This remembering is a call to action based on your remembrances.  Remember me in prayer many of our older generation asked. Don’t just call me to mind, but pray for me. Ask the Father on my behalf. Intercede for me. Many times I have had friends who have traveled across the ocean. When they did I asked them to remember me—to shout my name at the shore. Or to stand on the Ephesian soil and bring me a stone so I might add it to my own cairn here at home. These friends have remembered me. Returning from their sojourns they come and see me and tell me they whispered my name, prayed for me or brought me something. I was remembered. 
In the next seven days I want to remember what my sweet God has done for me. What he has provided. What he has given. What he has bestowed. What he has poured out so freely.
Please join me. Ann Voskamp has paved the way for us with her beautiful book: One Thousand Gifts. If you haven’t read it I’m sorry. Thanksgiving is the under breath of Ann’s life. She encourages all of us to understand that everything can be filtered through giving thanks. Everything. And when we give thanks, when we choose to be grateful, our hearts fill to the brim.
Once we see three things to be thankful for we begin to see thirty.
For the next seven days I want you to experience the spill over of God’s abundant grace. As I share my spill over, perhaps you will see and recognize your own.
We’ll begin today.  Today’s remembrances are a list.  A list of ten.
Ten things I am thankful for today.

1.      Blueberries and pomegranate mixed in my morning yogurt.

2.      Henry (our dog) being so patient with my grandsons.

 

3.      Folded laundry.

4.      Ice in my water.

5.      Thursday night date with my oldest and youngest daughters—and the three tickets for the premiere of the movie we will see at midnight.  

6.      My daughter asking me to make her a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.

7.      The scent of Granddaddy’s bread baking in our kitchen.

8.      Text prayers.

9.      The phrase “Hey, Mama.”

10.  My corner sanctuary.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mountain Lessons: About God


He is

 never changing. He is immutable. He is the same yesterday, today and forever—the constant. As the Scriptures declare to us there are no shifting shadows in him.
But our knowledge of him, our knowing of Him, continues to unfold and enlarge. As we come into a deeper and deeper relationship with him more is revealed to us. Through intimacy we learn who he is. More and more I understand why the metaphor of marriage gives a limited, yet very beautiful visual of our relationship with the Father.
The revelation has to do with us—not him.
He is the same God Abraham knew, Hagar knew, Moses knew, Ruth knew, David knew, Ezra knew, Esther knew, Saint Francis knew,  Bonheoffer knew, C.S. Lewis knew, Mother Teresa knew, Billy Graham knows, Beth Moore knows, Donald Miller knows, John Piper knows and Kay Arthur knows.
The very same.
They were and are not such saints that they have an exclusive revelation of who God is. They were not given an inside track, a back door or initiated in by special rites. These aforementioned people have not been given some special revelation the rest of us are not privy to know. These people were and are not saints as it is defined today. They were and are flesh and blood sinners. They were and are bought and brought into the kingdom by the blood of Jesus. We come in the very same way today. And the God they knew is the one we can know.
This is the God we can know.
There is something to this knowing. Often in the Bible this word was used as a metaphor for the sexual union of a husband and a wife—and he knew his wife. It is more than just informational knowledge, more than academic pursuit and more than head facts. This knowing is intimate. It is revelatory. It is exposing. It is baring. It is experiential.
Since I was seventeen this knowing of Him has been offered to me. God wooed me when other lovers attempted to turn my head. He chased after me when I strayed. He found me when I lost my way. He carried me when I was weak. He washed me when I was filthy. He fed me when I was starving. He pursed me when I ran from him.
And there is such sweetness in this. Such beautiful sweetness in the heart and character of God. (Sweetness has been connected with Shirley Temple, puppies, new babies, and newlyweds—this is not the sweetness I mean.)
This beautiful sweetness is the marrow of who God is. When you break open the shell of a pecan or walnut—the nut-meat is sweet. Not sugary sweet, but deep savory and nourishing sweet. This is why Scriptures says many times: Taste and see the Lord is good.
Even in this God is asking us to know him. To experience him. Taste and see he says. Participate. Engage. Enter.
God wants us to know him.
I have tasted this sweetness of him.  And each taste of the reality of who He is and what He is sinks into the flesh of me.  Burying and yet, unearthing.
Coming down from that mountain our hearts (mine and Terri’s) burned. Burned as we discussed the reality that there is no other God like this one. There is no other.
Listen, I have looked.
There is no other who will pursue us. No other who will seek us. No other who will come to rescue us. There is no other who will reach down in the filth of our human excrement and pull us out and up into his arms.  
All other gods will ask, “What will you do for me?”  All other gods will demand a sacrifice of us which we would not give if we could see it in its entirety, in its full length. Other gods demand a reckoning we do not immediately see. Other gods, idols, will be tolerant initially; but they will keep a tally—black marks of what you owe them. And they will extract it from you.
But, you see, our God wants to be known. He longs to reveal himself to his people. Did you catch that?
Longs. Not demands. Not commands. Not coerces. No, he longs to show himself—to us. We, these vile and ugly creatures (and yes, we are. We, the innards of us, can, might and will be ugly. Really, you don’t believe me? Read CNN for five days in a row.)
We are given the chance and choice to know him. Our race does not hinder us, our gender does not hinder us, our age does not hinder us, and our pasts cannot prevent us.  Nothing can separate us from the love and sweetness of God.
When this truth becomes embedded in our hearts, when we realize he abides in the ugly place we just talked about, when this truth penetrates the stone flesh of who we are—it will change us.
The sweetness of God will change us.
Rules, regulations, laws and moral codes do not change us. They only momentarily alter our behavior. The law shows and points out where we do not meet the standard. It is a witness against us so that we might know our lack.  That we might understand we are not holy.
But it is the sweetness and the grace of God which transforms us.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Just taste.  
Please, just taste.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mountain Lessons: Not About Me (Or About You)


I

n the last Mountain Lesson we talked about confession—agreeing with our God about the sins and the calling of our lives. Confession that is centered in returning to a right standing with God is healing.  It promotes the health of our spirits. It prevents infection and decay. It cleanses us.
Another revelation?
This Christian life?
This relationship I am in with the Father? this faith I proclaim?
It is not about anything I do.  
It is not about what I do to become or be a good Christian. It is not about what I sacrifice, what I offer or what I bring to the table. It is not about my morality or doctrinal stance. It is not about my adherence to man-made traditions. Or human expectations. The Christian walk is not about my misguided stabs at trying to find salvation. Over and over I have stabbed in the darkness with so many things: bible study, church attendance, prayer, devotions, quiet times and moral doctrine.
Many times my bible study has been seasonal and random and rarely retaining, my church attendance has often been a reluctant duty with no life or energy, my prayers have often been as stale as a long opened bag of chips, my devotions dry as saltine crackers, quiet times full of din and static and my doctrinal beliefs rigidly and horribly misguided.

None of these will save me or you. None of them.
No! This Christian life is about what God did through Jesus.  My salvation and redemption does not pivot on my performance. It hinges on the willing sacrifice of God’s Son to buy his people back. To buy me back.
I can do nothing for God, but because of what he did for me I can do everything for him. Nothing I do can earn my clear conscience. Nothing I offer can put peace in my spirit, Nothing I do can produce goodness in me. Nothing I can say or do will erase my shame.  Nothing I do can or will transform me. Nothing. But glory to God, he can do all these things and has.
We tend to make salvation and its story man-centered. People-centered.  We try to strain and stretch this story, this long-reaching act of ransom, so that we become the heroes and heroines.
We are not the heroes and heroines. God help the story if we are.
We are the ones needing to be saved.
Our hair has grown too long, we have lost our glass slippers, we have eaten far too much of the gingerbread house, we have given up our voices in order to obtain something we aren’t even sure will want us, our houses have succumbed to wind and flames and we have been deceived by the wolf far too many times.
We want to be the powerful protagonists of the story.
We want to be flawless characters (which of course would mean that we are static).
But everyone, and I do mean everyone, is a flawed character in this story. The absolute reality is that at any given time all of us—I do mean all, there is no exception—are flawed.
We should never be persuaded to believe otherwise.
We are not the voice in the narrative.
This is God’s story.
Period.
This is His plan of salvation.
And we can try to add to it, but our attempts will never be enough, because that is all they ever are: attempts. Futile tries.
Adam and Eve attempted to cover their nakedness with fig leaves. They tried to cover their bareness with torn and broken leaves far too small. Why? Because they suddenly saw ugliness where before they saw only beauty. They tried to write their own story; the deceiver told them God was holding out on them.  
They believed the subtle, slick and silky snake.
We do too.
The deceiver tells us we can write our own stories. He implies that God is holding out on us. He convinces us that it is about us.
He wants us to believe this lie.
He tries to convince God’s people that salvation is our story, but it is not. 
It is God’s story.  
He is the hero.  
All our attempts to live this Christian life are like stringing fig leaves together to cover a nakedness we no longer understand.  Our endeavors to create and design an acceptable wardrobe is in vain. We are like the emperor who paraded down the streets in his nakedness believing he was wearing royal robes.  
 
Only the willing sacrificial offering of Jesus covers us.
 
This is our salvation.

That’s it. Nothing else.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mountain Lessons: About Me


Scripture tells us not to toot our own horn. We are exhorted to not think too highly of ourselves, but to look and evaluate soberly, because the only horn worth hearing is the one that will announce Jesus’ return (and glory, could that be soon, please!). 

Well, Friends, last week I certainly put my horn away, just packed it right back in its little ole’ case. If ever the inward parts of me have been sobered then this second visit to The Cove was the time.

Remember, mountain revelations are meant and given so that we might know Him. They are given so that anything hindering the revelation of his glory in our lives might be removed. They are given so that we see him and understand ourselves in light of his holiness. His holiness.

There was a little alcove where much discussion of the day’s messages occurred. In that little alcove, in our rooms, at our tables and in our seats we discussed that confession, real confession, is agreeing with God about ourselves.



Now, here’s the hard part:  often we believe that confession is ONLY agreeing with the negative.

This is only one facet of confession. Confession is a beautiful jewel—cut for our cleansing. Mounted for our healing. Never before had I practiced this idea of confession as I did while at The Cove.

So, Friends, here are my confessions, both negative and positive, before you, before Him.

Comparisons are lethal. AnnVoskamp just addressed this in a recent post and the Spirit used her words to ping and pierce me.

When we compare ourselves to others then the comparisons become the tendrils entangled in the roots of envy and jealousy. These are ugly, ugly plants. Envy and jealousy reveal that we doubt that God is giving us, treating us, providing us with everything we want or need. Envy and jealousy suggest that we believe we have a lack.

I have had flairs of jealousy and envy. 

These are brief, but they are like flairs—both in their intensity and in their warning.

The Spirit revealed this in me again.

At first denial whispered.

Surely not I, I think. Surely I do not have that hidden in me. 

And the Spirit said, “Oh, but Tamera, it is you and you do.” 

Days later I wept because it was even in my heart at all, and I wept because it took me days to name it. But the Spirit gently brought me to a place where I could confess and agree with God. I needed to understand that my jealousies were a state of mind that said deep down I believe there is a lack in God’s provision for me.

As the Spirit tendered the soil of me I became embarrassed, appalled and grieved. It amazes me how gently God deals with me. How quietly he exposes some ugly root in my heart.

Isn’t that the way of Adam and Eve? The enemy led Eve to believe that there was a lack—that God with held something from Adam and her. She coveted what God had. But she couldn’t handle what God had withheld. God didn’t mean for the frame of humanity to carry the knowledge of good and evil.

Oh, Eve. Like mother, like daughter.

And I cried with Paul. O, wretched woman that I am. Who will save me?

Ahhh!  And the answer is the same.

Jesus.

Jesus will rescue me. He will deliver me!

Now, remember, confession is agreeing with God about all things: negative and positive.

It is so much harder to agree with God in positive confession.

God has called me to pray. I have been called to enter his throne room and stand before him on behalf of others.

To talk with God about and for someone else is one of the greatest joys of my life. To ask for blessings and favor on their behalf, to ask for God’s provision, protection and power for them is an honor. It is a pleasure for me to ask for God’s hand to be revealed in their lives, for his plan to be visible, for his sovereignty to be recognized, for his forgiveness to be acknowledged and received—this, this is a privilege.

Why God called this woman to pray I am not sure. It certainly is not because I have it all together (obviously I don’t considering the first part of this post). But you see it is not about me. It is about him.

And isn’t that the glory of this particular Mountain Lesson?

He knows fully the condition of my heart, yet, he calls me anyway. His Son’s ransom payment has made all things right. His Son’s blood love has covered the multitude of my sins.

I pray because I want others to know the ransom has been paid and that they, too, are covered by His blood love.

There’s an overwhelming urgency at times that someone needs to be carried to throne room. In my arms, across my shoulders, on my back or pulled on a travois—however, I can get them there I will take them. Because I know, I KNOW, before the throne they will receive what they need. They will be revived. Healed. Disciplined. Loved. Exhorted. Encouraged.

But this in some ways seems very selfish. Why? Because I am so blessed.

Did you hear that?

When I take someone to the throne room I get to go too. I, ugly sinner that I am, get to stand in the beautiful Presence of the Father (much of the time I don’t stand.). How can I not benefit? Peter knew. It is because of the Spirit’s words through Peter that I first began to understand this calling. He said we are a royal priesthood. Priests intercede for their people.

Even now, right now, these words are blurring on the screen. Tears have pooled in my eyes. That God would not only allow, but call me to such a mission blows my mind. Stuns me. Seriously.

But I agree with him.

I confess: God has called me to a ministry in the throne room.

May the incense I offer be sweet. May it be a fragrant offering.


Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Who was, and is and is to come.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mountain Revelation


The first full week of November I went on a retreat with Terri (need I say more?). We spent three days at The Cove near Asheville, North Carolina.



The Billy Graham Training Center is a glorious place on so many levels. The foliage had just passed its peak, the weather was a perfect blend of sunshine and that nippy edge of deep autumn, fires fought and danced in enormous and cavernous fireplaces. We ate incredible five-star chef-prepared meals, and we experienced a deep quiet that permeated through the layers of noise and shuffle. We engaged in powerful and transparent conversations with each other, the teaching was like manna—dropped on us, and we found a slow and spacious place to breathe. No wonder we were reluctant to leave.







The mountain.

We have experienced it: a retreat, a conference or a vacation that felt like we were on top of the mountain.

It’s a time we resonate with Peter, James and John and the Transfiguration with and of Jesus. On that mountain and in that moment the inner three of Jesus’ circle saw Jesus in a limited revelation of his glory. (They wouldn’t have been able to tell this story later if they had seen him in his full glory!)

There have been many interpretations of why Peter wanted to build a shelter for Jesus. I think Peter just didn’t want to leave the mountain. He didn’t want to walk away from the revelation and go back down into the daily living of life where everyone looked the same again—where the glory-light began to fade. On that mountain, time and circumstances were suspended. Revelation opened eyes even if they didn’t fully understand what or who they were seeing. The mountain was a place of unveiling and uncovering. Peter wanted to set up camp for a while.

But God never allows us to remain on the mountain for very long. Revelation must be carried back to the valleys and plains and hollers and cities and villages and coves.

We tend to want to stay in the moment of revelation and transfiguration. We want to bask there, sunning our pale souls. We want to camp there, drenching our dry and cracked soils. We want to eat there, filling our empty and growling bellies.

Do you blame Peter? 

Or us? 

I don’t.

But the reality is that the revelation, the unveiling of who God is and what he is doing, is to be shared. It is to be proclaimed. It is to be given. It is to be implemented. It is to be applied.

Revelation must move down from the mountain into the places we live if it is to become more than an idea and more than a concept or a doctrine.

You see I wanted to send a bus and carry everyone I missed and loved to us. I wanted to bring them to The Cove and set up camp.

But you can’t set up permanent camp on the mountain.

Jesus didn’t stay on the mountain either. He didn’t take Peter up on his offer of a shelter. No. He covered his glory, wrapped his humanity right back around that marvelous light, and came back down that rock and boulder strewn path—returning to the din and chaos of humanity. He came down with Peter and James and John. Back to the place they were living.

Briefly I heard and saw and was enveloped in a great cloud of his glory last week. There was a moment or two that I was about to make some suggestions like Peter’s. I think Terri and I even suggested to a few of our fellow sojourners, “Let’s just live here. Right here.”

But we came back.

We drove down that mountain talking and grappling with everything we had seen and heard. We came off that mountain with our faces glowing. That God-glory had settled on our tarnished faces—polishing them like silver.

For several days I mourned. I didn’t want the glory to fade. Didn’t want that glory-light to fall away.

This post began in the middle of that grieving.

And somewhere in the middle of it, most likely right when I was about to open my mouth and talk about shelters like Peter, God reminded me that revelation must come back down the mountain and live.

Now, here we are at the base of that mountain. The glory has faded. The hot fire of it burned down to embers. We are back in the place where the air is thicker. Back into the grit and grime of living. Back in the routine of alarm clocks and jobs. Back in the place of dirty laundry, unmade beds and lost socks. Back into the friction of personalities and opinions (including the ugliness of my own).

Friends, this is where we live: amidst the struggles and the wrestlings of our humanness. We live in the constant grappling of the interim of being citizens of the mountain, but residents here now. 

And though the glory might fade, its transformational qualities do not. Exposure to the glory of God changes us, transforms us. My precious friend, Peter, reminded me of this truth. Peter remembered that mountain glory for the rest of his life, but I realize that part of what made that indelible impression on his heart was that the Glory came back down the mountain with them. That Glory walked out among the people. Touched them. Held them. Loved them. The glory-light might have been cloaked, but it couldn’t help but seep out through the cracks..

God’s revelation is always given so that we might know him more. So we might be transfigured. Revelation is meant to be shared—disclosed. Opened. An unveiling of the mystery to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

And He will always come back down the mountain with us. Always.  Because he wants us to know him. 

Isn’t this the point of transfiguration? Isn’t this the point of revelation? Isn’t that the point of the mountain?

To know him.

If we have been transfigured by his revelation then it will come with us off the mountain.

Our glory-light might fade, but it will seep through the cracks.

So, if I am going to live like the Jesus I profess—if I am going to live out his revelation—then I have to come down from the mountain and live.

Right here. Right now. Right in the middle.