Thursday, December 19, 2019

Listening Lessons, Loud Whispers, and Humility (just be the donkey)

I'm taking lessons on how to be a better listener.

This is my 2019 Christmas gift to Jesus.

It's HARD to be a listener, believe me!

I'm wordy.

The sound of silence is difficult!

Silent-spaces are awkward-spaces

in my world...

however, not necessarily in the spiritual world.

BUT, paying attention and being present in the moment is,


Who knew?

I'm beginning my lessons by practicing on others,

so that, I might, consequently, hear the voice of Jesus more clearly, too,

whether in His Word, in worship, in conversation, or even in just the silence.

His voice is a whisper.

But, for those who are paying attention,


not talking,

not asking,

not informing,

not advising,

not usurping...

just being still;

the whispers of Jesus are loud.

Whispers are loud to listeners. 

So, I'm trying

to be in the moment...

really trying not to fill every silent-second with a sentence, or two, or three...

giving full on eye-contact

asking appropriate questions

not interrupting

using open and inviting body language

and, for goodness sakes, not looking at my watch, which is continually spewing notifications at me.

Yesterday, in listening-practice, through the voice of a friend over coffee, I heard the voice of Jesus.

His whisper was loud!

We were discussing humility.

(Side note: one of the goodest-hardest books I ever read was Andrew Murray's book: Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness. Advice: Don't ever pray for humility if you don't want to go through the lessons to learn that one. Whoosh!)

My friend mentioned Corrie Ten Boom's teaching on humility.

Corrie was once asked if it were difficult to remain humble as she received acclaim for her book, ensuing movie, and the numerous requests to speak a word of encouragement to others. Her reply at the time was simple.

"When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments onto the road, and singing praises, do you think that for one moment it ever entered the head of the donkey that any of that was for him?"

She continued, "If I can be the donkey on which Jesus Christ rides in His glory, I give Him all the praise and all the honor."

Earlier this week, I had read another quote that had resonated in my soul.

It resonated, because I so related.

Not always;

But there were times this past year I've felt this way:

The two lines came from a love sonnet written by Joy Davidman, before her marriage to C.S. Lewis.

"The best of me is merely common-place,
And I am tired, and I am growing old."




When those words pop into my head, they, subsequently, shout this word:


It struck me as my friend mentioned dear Corrie, that as much as I talk about God using the common and ordinary in extra-ordinary ways, that, in reality, I don't want to be common at all.

I prefer the extra-ordinary.

I recognized a sinful part of me, buried beneath all my wordiness...

In spite of what I say, there is still a deceitful heart within me...

A prideful spirit...

A heart that manipulates:

If I say the right thing, then maybe I will receive what I want.

I offer the Lord words that speak "hineni" (here I am, ready, available, use me however) for Your glory...

But, behind them is a sweet manipulation that says, "but I REALLY want to be beyond the common."

Newsflash! Sweet manipulation is still manipulation.

There is nothing of humility to be found.

And, this morning that breaks my heart.

I want my words and my life to match.

Right now the two are incongruent.

God used a donkey to speak to Balaam.

I'm sure the donkey was as shocked as Balaam.

God used a donkey to bring a very pregnant Mary to Bethlehem.

As the donkey lay beside her resting in a filthy manger, he was one of the first to witness the entrance of the Messiah to the world.

And, as mentioned, God used a donkey to carry our Savior into Jerusalem, where he would die a violent death a mere days later for us all.

Nowhere in Scripture does the donkey boast of its mission.

There is no desire on its part to be anything but a donkey

doing what donkeys do best

carrying their masters.

But, every Christmas in every manger scene there front and center is a donkey.

Every Palm Sunday there is a donkey carrying Jesus.

Now that I was silent enough to listen...

...and hear...

now that the Lord has my attention...

I'm giving Him back my common-heart,

my nobody status,

so I can just be a donkey

God's glory rides in on

for as long as the Lord sees fit


And, with this I wish a

Merry Christmas

to each of you.

I'll be taking a blogging-break for the remainder of the HOLY-SEASON, along with a continued social media fast.

I pray your HOLY-DAY of Christmas is filled with deep reflection on the heart of Christmas:  Jesus!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

What the Lord Does with Mud

As is my typical morning "habit" (albeit, as cold as it has been that habit has moved more into early afternoon), I go for a brisk walk.

Sometimes I'll listen to a sermon, sometimes I listen to Scripture, or an audio-book, but most times I am just quiet and my prayer is "Spirit of the Living God, open my eyes to see what you'd have me see today." 

This is my pilgrimage-of-sorts.

It isn't always the physical sight for which I'm asking, most of the time it is the spiritual sight to see what the Lord has for me on this particular day.

So it was day before yesterday.

I just walked, breathing in, breathing out, and wondering what might be mine from the Lord for this day.

To be honest, I'm feeling stuck.

I'm loving my study in Nehemiah.

It has been eye-opening in many, many ways.

There is so much relevance to what is happening among believers in the church today.

The rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall is synonymous with revival.

Each laying of the bricks is the re-establishing of foundational truths that need to be replaced around the corporate church, God's temple, as well as the individual church, each follower of Jesus.

As in Nehemiah's day, there will certainly arise opposition: from without and from within.

It won't always be obvious.

It will even "sound" spiritual.

It will "look" loving.

It will appear like healthy "compromise" leading to unity.

It will SEEM GOOD (but remember: Good is often enemy of the best.)

No matter how it appears, it is quite possibly DISTRACTION...

The enemy will use anything, even seemingly good and spiritual "stuff," to distract from seeing God glorified and His Name (character) elevated.

We are each falling prey to the enemy's tactics from time to time and don't even realize it.

But, as I said, I'm STUCK!

I began to study the book, just for me, for my own personal deepening growth.

So, maybe, just maybe, what I am learning isn't meant to be purposed for this blog-space.

I may still need to chew on it with the teeth of my heart a little longer.

All this to say, revival, which is desperately needed in the American church, will only occur if we put into place a Nehemiah plan on an individual basis.

Revival will start with me.

Revival will start with each one of us....

It will begin, when we pick up the stones of TRUTH from GOD'S WORD that lay on the ground in rubble that has long been forgotten.

It will begin with setting aside opinion, politics, and even theology, and get back to the basics of the GOSPEL MESSAGE.

But, I digress.

Back to my walk.

What the Lord focused my eyes on is the ONE-THING I think He wants me to say today in this blog.

As I prayed, "Open my eyes," I got a sense that I was to respond to the question, "What are you seeing?"

Me:  "Mud, Lord. I just see mud. Mucky, silky, rivers of velvet brown mud."

The Lord: "What can I do with mud?"

Me: "Much! You placed it on the blind man's eyes and healed his sight. You created man from the muddy clay. You used it in Egypt with the Israelites in bondage as they made bricks day after day, in preparation for leading them out. You've used mud throughout Scripture...even in Nehemiah to rebuild the wall. AND, You are remarkably adept at washing away the mud of sin, leaving hearts white as snow."

And, my mind began bouncing from thing-to-thing like the ball in a pin-ball machine (remember those?).

Here's where that little ball landed...

When I describe the Bride of Christ (the Church), it is frequently with these words:

Jesus' bride is dirty; unprepared for her bride-groom. Her wedding dress is in dis-repair; it is tattered, torn, and stained with mud.

Gently and quietly, the Lord replied. "She is, indeed, all that and more. BUT, I can take care of her muddy dress. I can do something with dirty, unprepared, and torn. What YOU need to remember is that she is still my bride, and I LOVE her."

That is the Gospel.

That is what we need to remember - all of us - from those who are "done" with the church ("Doners"); those walking away, deconstructing, and, most of all, critical.

The Church is Jesus' BRIDE.


I am the BRIDE.


It is why He "advented" so long ago.

It is why He will "advent" again.

In the meantime, I watch for distractions...and keep rebuilding my wall of faith with the rubble of ancient TRUTH.

Jesus will take care of the mud and the holes in my wedding clothes.

And, He will take care of yours.

He LOVES YOU, precious Bride!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Heart-Cry for the Son of God to Re-Advent...

When the Lord is about to speak a "change" into my life, He generally prepares my heart in advance.

It is kind of Him to do so.

He almost always begins the change with a restlessness of spirit.

So, in my journal in the fall of 1991, I began asking Him why I was feeling so very RESTLESS!

What is going on with us, Lord?

The last thing I expected was a transition from Africa to the U.S.

I loved serving in Kenya.

I'd never felt more fulfilled.

I considered the role I played at RVA (Rift Valley Academy), not a big role in the scope of things, but the best joy-job EVER.

Over the next month, my journal chronicles the prayers and the seeking...

Then, there was the day all became clear.

We were camping on a river, in the middle of a working ranch, somewhere in central Kenya.

Journal in hand, I watched the river flow in front of me, as I sat relaxed and at peace under a huge shade tree.

There were these verses in Acts 26, where I just happened (😏) to be reading.

The Lord had spoken these words to the Apostle Paul, and he was re-iterating them to King Agrippa.

All of a sudden, Paul's calling became my calling.

I can't explain it.

I just knew it lit up my soul.

I have
...appointed you for this purpose: to be my servant, a witness of the things you have seen me open eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light, from doing as they please to the follow their Lord, and that they may receive forgiveness and a place among those who are set apart for the faith. 
(Acts 26:16, 18)

I began a list that morning.

It fills three pages of my journal.

That list was meant for the Lord's eyes only.

It states all the many, many GOOD and WISE (in-my-own-eyes) reasons why the Lord should NOT send me back to the US.

I thought they were BRILLIANT.

I was certain I had convinced Him to change His mind.

But, there by the river, my reasons dropped one by one into the waters and floated away.

When I was finished, I sensed the Lord say to me, "Look again. Those are the very reasons WHY I am sending you home."


I re-visited those reasons this week.

They're still valid.

And, yesterday, as I took a walk along another river through the middle of my hometown, I sensed I was to step up to my calling with renewed purpose.

So, here I sit, beginning a little mini-series on the book of Nehemiah.

It is a great way to approach Advent.

No, it's not about the Christmas story.

But, it is about the NEED for ADVENT (a coming)...

...the need of revival in God's church.

We desperately need Jesus to come afresh in the here-and-now!

Oh, that NOW/SOON might be the fulness of time.

Nehemiah was a man with a mission to restore the GLORY of GOD.

Today, we need the same.

My heart has been breaking for God's church: corporate and individual.

I feel a weight of heaviness.

We are a people divided.

Loyalties, theologies and politics split us smack down the middle.

Jesus came at Christmas...

He was birthed as a man.

Then, He died as the Savior of man.

But, Jesus lived in order to bring three things:


Yet, to a lost world looking on at His church, His bride...

He is a weak God.

He is a divisive God.

He is an impotent God.

He is incapable and unable to unite His people, protect His people, bring peace to His people, and do great things through His people.

These were the very reasons, Nehemiah left a potentially dangerous, but cushy job, serving a King who extended him great trust and numerous benefits to return to Jerusalem.

His heart broke when he received a report from his home-land.

All was not well in Jerusalem.

The walls were broken down and the gates non-existent.

Why is this important?

The walls left the city open for continuous attack.

The people of God could accomplish nothing.

No work in the name of the Lord was having lasting benefit.

Because the walls were broken down, the enemy of the people, looked on God's people with scorn and ridicule.

More importantly, the walls represented the character and the strength of the one who held the authority within the city.

Because the Lord God was the AUTHORITY, the enemy looked on Him as weak, divisive, important, incapable, and unable.


Nehemiah heard the report (see chapter 1) and his heart broke.

He sat down and wept.

He rose up and fasted.

He knelt down and prayed.

(What a SPLENDID GO-TO response for restless, broken hearts!)

In the praying God gave Nehemiah a workable plan.

He was to be the voice of God.

He was to be the one to stir the hearts of the people on God's behalf.

He would be the vehicle of restoring the GLORY OF GOD to Judah.

And, here is where I sit....

...weeping over God's people in a broken church.

...committing to a "fast" over the holiday season that the Lord might re-Advent.


...and listening, what would the Lord have me do to be a micro-voice for Him?

How in my small way, might I be a useful vehicle?

Oh, Lord...
Advent again!
Draw Near!
Restore Your Glory within Your Church.

How I'd love to see God's MAGNIFICENCE restored in the US, and the American church, united in purpose to share a strong, able, loving, glorious God ----

A God of
Good News
Great Joy
All People.

Perhaps, you might feel compelled to join in a similar prayer: how can we be little Nehemiah's to our world?

It may be one simple acts:  sit down and cry.