Monday, November 30, 2015

Master’s Monday:

"Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."

This weekend, I had the very great privilege of spending a “Weekend Away” with my postgrad Bible study group at the beautiful old converted fruit farm known as "The Poplars," in the village of Ledbury, Herefordshire. It was a wonderful time of rest and refreshment in the incomparable English countryside, and I thought a few pictures might be in order. 

Yes, it was a tad windy…okay very windy…and a bit damp, but the morning sunbeams, the unbelievable November greenery, the quiet, the peace, and the fellowship were all more than worth the extremely mild inconveniences. What a privilege to experience this beautiful piece of God’s creation!


Monday, November 23, 2015

Master’s Monday: He Breaks the Enchantment

“These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.”

This quotation has been on my mind and heart this week. I love the imagery, from C. S. Lewis’s sermon, The Weight of Glory, incidentally preached at the University Church here in Oxford, where I performed in a chamber orchestra concert a few weeks ago. 

In this Thanksgiving season, some of the blessings for which I am the most thankful include the exemplary men and women in my life who have willingly chosen to join in on my Father’s great spell-weaving process. I am so thankful for those who have helped me to see how easily I can be captivated by the things of this world. Often these things do not look so bad. In fact, their very promise of pleasantness is typically what makes them so powerful. Too easily I am induced to slumber by the comfort of the mundane. Lord, awaken my heart; keep me alert and on guard; fill me with Your passion for those who remain under the enchantment.

In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus articulated His desire that we might have His joy fulfilled in us. What a marvelous thought! His joy surpasses any that this world can offer. I want to keep my mind and my heart set on Him this week.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Master’s Monday

Therefore We Will Not Fear

Yesterday evening, church service opened with the awe-inspiring and comforting words of Psalm 46. I plan to take this psalm with me this week and meditate on its abundant truth.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

I am forever grateful to my Master for His presence in the darkest of circumstances and for the living waters of joy that He offers to all who turn to Him for refuge. I thank Him for His abiding care—His care for every trouble, great or small, that I or any other of His children may face. I want to live my life in His kingdom, today and every day hereafter, regardless of what the future may bring. 

The nations are indeed in uproar. In many ways, they always have been. With every action that I perform today, I want to reassert my allegiance to the Prince of Peace. His is the one kingdom continually at peace and continually working to transmit that peace into this violent world of men. His is a worthy calling. I want to dwell in His holy place and exalt His name in every situation. “And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which translated is, ‘God with us.’” 

“To make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Freedom I Seek

Last Sunday morning I sang for church. A virus had gotten the best of me for about three weeks and had turned into walking pneumonia. By Sunday, I was improved but still suffering from the effects. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to share some thoughts and an old Debbie Boone song that had been on my mind. I was glad I did, for despite my condition, it seemed the words of this song spoke to quite a number of people. I had more people than ever tell me it was helpful. I thank God that He can use us even in our weakest moments. 

The longer I live, the more I understand Surrender. "The freedom I seek, is the word that You speak, running deep as the song of my soul..."

It was pretty clear when I was young and the message of surrender broke through my blindness. It meant obey your parents. Submit, respect, trust, and do what they tell you is the wisest thing to do. Do it with joy and appreciation. I embraced this.  

Then came the big life decisions. My surrender was deepened. I told God, and I meant it with every fiber of my being, "I want You to choose what is best for me. Am I to be married or not? If so, to whom? How am I to use my gifts, talents, and skills? I lay aside everything I've thought I wanted, every dream I've ever had, every hope. I trust You to know what is best for me." 

I have never regretted placing myself in His hands, as best as I knew how, for those major life decisions. 

Years later, an even deeper sense of surrender emerges. Again and again, I find, "Oh, it's my will messing things up! I need to surrender!" 

It can be the smallest, seemingly most insignificant issue, but surrender brings life and freedom over and over!

I shared last Sunday before I sang that it was about pancakes most recently. Imagine, silly little, round concoctions of flour, sugar, oil, and egg... an opportunity for spiritual, emotional, relational benefit? Freedom from slavery to my will over a pancake? Yep, you got it. 

I'm making pancakes and the thought occurs, I'll make a few for Curt, then two for me, and then I'll sit down with him to enjoy them. 

I give him one and tell him I'll bring two more soon. He responds, "Oh, please make the next one for yourself. We can just alternate so they stay good and hot." 

I think, "I just made a decision. I'd like to make three for you and then two for me. In that order. You have a different opinion. Ding! My will! This is my will exerting itself. Is there some logical reason for my preference that we should discuss? Not really. It was a quick, pretty-much-feeling-directed vs. logic-directed decision. Laura, it's about pancakes. You don't have to have it your way. Surrender. It doesn't matter. Having peace and contentment between you and your best buddy means much more."

Oh, the freedom when I just let go. 

Surrendered, I flip the 2nd pancake, a smile on my face, and a heart full of joy. (And just for the record, Curt surrenders his will to me just as often as I do to him, maybe more.)

Life gives us a million chances to choose freedom over bondage, and Jesus lived before us the perfect example of surrender: to His Father and to others when that was what was best for them.

Help me, Abba, to quickly recognize when I simply need to surrender. 

In case you'd enjoy hearing this song, I found it on Youtube. 


Like the song in the wind
Lord you call me again

And I find myself drawn to your voice
As I lean toward the choice

Like the echoing sound of the sea
Lord you echo in me

Like a dancer I'll follow again
To the music within

For the freedom I seek
Is the word that you speak
Running deep as the song of my soul
To be totally sure and totally yours and totally surrendered

Like the song of the rain
You repeat the refrain

And I know that your music is mine
And I follow in time

For the freedom I seek
Is the word that you speak
Running deep as the song of my soul
To be totally sure and totally yours and totally surrendered

Like the song in the wind
Lord you call me again

And at last I can soar like a bird
On the wings of the word