midnight prayer

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Jesus

There’s no real place to begin. You are great. Thank you for reminding me of your unfailing love; love this isn’t determined by my performance, or even my attitude in approaching or obeying. I feel so inadequate, but I know that’s a lie. I am inadequate, but I’m also dead. You are the One alive in me; I have been crucified and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. You have blessed me with every spiritual blessing, including the strength to obey when I’m out of my league (because you are never out of Yours), and the Spirit to align my heart with yours. Holy Spirit, please do so. In my innermost being I long to worship Jesus in Spirit and Truth. Pierce through the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow; discern the thoughts and intentions of my heart. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! O God, how I need you. I need you for survival. I need you for satisfaction. I have tasted and seen, and now where else can I go? Thank you for never giving up on me, for never relenting in your pursuit of my heart. You have captured me, and your fetters of love will never let me go, no matter how hard I fight against and no matter how passive I become. You are the one who is holding me. It’s amazing. It’s my only hope. And, because of this, I will be singing of You forever. Forever.

I lay my prideful obsession with others’ approval at your feet. It’s all the same war, which you have already won, and yet I still try to pick up my wooden sword and flirt with the sin that only has my death intended. Help me to remember that amplification of myself is only resulting in death. Give me spiritual discipline and endurance to fight against this body of death and walk in newness of life, in step with Your Spirit.

I trust you have gone before me and I know you go with me.

Heart Condition – a prayer –

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Father,

I’m at a loss. This is such a new thing for me. I can’t remember ever being so cranky and easily frustrated as my baseline. What is this?!? It’s been at least 8 days of constantly feeling put out by whatever happens. All sorts of questions have come up in my mind as to where this is coming from, and so far, no answers. Why am I acting on such a short fuse???? I’ve tried to fix it by purposefully serving, hoping my heart will match up. But it’s not.

But, finally, today I think I heard the Holy Spirit’s soft whisper: maybe this is the end of my honeymoon phase. Maybe the “new and shiny” of my life here in Ohio is starting to wear off. Just look at how I approach my days, just desperate things to fill time. I get my homework done, and then I’m at a loss for what to do. Sometimes I try to distract myself with my favorite drug: social interaction. Or I work on one of the dozen projects we have available in our new place. But, not even a month into this behavior, and I’m already coming up dry. There’s nothing in those wells. They’ve been emptied for me. The places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned…. And now I’m wondering if this heart condition is so much more multifaceted than I’d initially bargained for.

What if I’m desperate for my home, for my friends, for my real family, and I’m not letting myself feel that hole? Why if my conscious attempts at filling the void are failing, so I’m always angry? And what if I’m acting out on that anger with Lauren because she’s the only one here who really knows me, so I trust her? What if this transition isn’t going as smoothly as I’d thought? What if I’m afraid of letting myself hurt? What if I’m afraid of being vulnerable with You? What if I don’t trust that You’re safe enough to carry my weighty pain?

The only thing I do know is that Jesus is enough. Jesus is enough. And you promise that I will bear the right fruit if I abide in you.

I’m sick of this nastiness. I’m sick of the fruit of “out of the heart the mouth speaks”. My own heart tastes filthy inside me. I am not at peace here.

Jesus, heal me. But please use this heart condition as a call to you, not just as a new means of symptom relief. Help me, guide me to the still waters where I can rest in safety under your shadow.

Oh I need You. So deeply. So fully. So complexly.

And Giveth Again…

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My precious Grandma Vicki….

I am proud (in the puff-up-your-chest, walk-a-little-taller, American sense of the word) of some aspects of my heritage. For instance, my maternal great-grandmother’s name was Mamie (rhymes with Jamie) and  played the steel guitar. Yep. Ballin’.

And my paternal grandmother, Vicki Jo, is just as awesome. She lives in a double-wide trailer decorated from floor to ceiling in the most beautiful, south-western fashion. Dried chilis hanging from the front porch. Painted cow skulls hanging in the dining room. Woven Indian blankets on the couch. She taught me how to make cherry pie from scratch, raised six children almost exclusively by herself and every fall the pioneer woman gets herself a doe-tag (hunting license) and shoots a doe elk from her kitchen window.

That being said, the thing that reminds me the most of my Grandma Vicki is southern gospel music. And I’m talking about those oooooold hymns played in that bouncy way, like “There’s Power in the Blood” and the ever great “Victory in Jesus”. Grandma Vicki plays the piano so well; her passion and talent in music has infused itself deeply in our blood, bearing fruit over generations.

Why am I talking about my grandparents? Well, a good number of years ago I decided to explore through some hymnals and I came across this goldmine. I’ve never heard it sung live; as a matter of fact, only recently had I ever heard someone else even sing it. I am always so encouraged by the words, deep life-giving truth. And in honor of my beloved Grandma (who still records Gaither music specials on VHS tape), I’m including both the lyrics and a video for you to be encouraged as well.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

My most favorite hymn. I can hear these words over and over and over again. The faithfulness of our Never-Ending-Generous God is so amazing that I cannot help but cry tears of grateful worship.

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

            His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
            His power no boundary known unto men;
            For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
            He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932)

God Moves in Mysterious Ways – A Hymn by William Cooper

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I just heard this hymn read in a sermon this afternoon, and I was completely struck (to the point of tears) with the last two lines. For the sake of proper context, I’ve included the whole hymn; I want to remind myself in future seasons of suffering and hardship that my God is sovereign, He is wise and He is holy. I can trust Him.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

maranatha, precision, Day 22

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“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘seven’s, and sixty-two ‘sevens’… After the sixty-two ‘sevens’, the Anointed one will be put to death and will have nothing. “ Dan 9.25-26

I’m not at home right now (and more importantly, I’m away from my study Bible), so I can’t go into much detail in explaining the “sevens”, but the important thing here is this: God revealed to Daniel the precise timing of the Messiah’s (the Anointed One’s) arrival. Down to the precise year.

My favorite analogy for clarifying prophecy was given to me by my Bible Professor/Pastor in Florida. A prophet is given a vision from God, and he records what he sees. If I were to stand near the top of a mountain peak and look straight ahead, I might see what looks like a singular peak, but is in fact multiple mountaintops together. From my vantage point I cannot see any of the valleys in between, merely many mountaintops in one perception. It’s a similar situation in Daniel 9. Without transition, Daniel begins by speaking of Jesus’ coming years down the road, and within the same verse starts to proclaim the end of the world (v. 26b-27).

You can get into some pretty deep holes if you spend too much time tearing apart and stapling down end times prophecies, and I don’t think that’s the ultimate point here. The point is to realize that God knows, exactly. He knew before the world was created that we would rebel and require His intervention and salvation. He knew exactly when Jesus would enter time as a man to intercede for us. And He knows precisely when this world as we know it will be finished.

“You must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter 3.8-9

maranatha, simple truth, Day 21

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“’The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’”

Jeremiah 23.5

Not much to say for this one. Let the truth of who our God is wash over your heart and mind today: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.

He has come. Merry Christmas.

maranatha, The Lord, Day 20

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“The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” Ps 110.1

It is so important to remember the Lordship of Jesus, especially during Advent. While reading this many prophecies talking about Jesus coming as a person, walking in meekness and humility, suffering unjustly at the hands of sinners, humbly obeying his Father’s commands, it becomes so easy for me to pity my own Savior. Oh poor Jesus. He didn’t deserve any of this. Look what we did to him. It’s just so sad.

But the truth is, we didn’t do anything to him. He is the righteous Judge (2 Timothy 4), the One who holds all creation together (Colossians 1), the Eternal I AM (Revelation 1).

Jesus, help me see you as you truly are. I ask as Moses did, “Show me your glory”. I need to fall at your feet as though dead like John did. I need to remember that You are God, that your are the Sovereign Lord, and that You are, right now, seated at the right hand of God, satisfied in Your completed work. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. We long for that day, in love and holy fear.