Writer, teacher and Public Speaker

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cathedrals of the World

Melk Abbey Austria ©
Once we travelled the rails and snaked our way high into the Swiss Alps to Andermatt. On our way back to the station we found a small church with huge wooden doors. Together my husband and I sat in the holy hush of candle light; surrounded by murals and sculptures from another time. I imagined the workers who built this haven so high on the rocky peaks.

I have walked cobbled stoned paths in Israel, Austria, Germany and Pompeii. I've bathed in light that danced its way through a million stained shards of glass, and rested in the splendor of places with domes covered in gold. I've watched the tourists with their careless cameras disrupt the faithful few. And listened to the walls hoping to hear the prayers of a thousand years. I eavesdropped once, though the language I did not know, to the prayer of one broken heart. Once I found an empty space, and risked singing an anthem of praise just to hear it echo off the ancient stones. When the tour ended, I filed out in hallowed silence, though my heart hungered for more.

But there's a faraway place that I hold so dear. A place that fills my heart with unspeakable delight. It has been the most magnificent cathedral of all. The artistry and worship were more than my senses could bare. No murals crowded my view of the sky, the walls were mud, but draped in vibrant cloth. I hold this place close to my heart, and think of it when the difficult days come (and trust me they do). 

The rhythm of their praise still echoes in my ear -- These were the songs of joy Christ must have heard as he endured the cross. Every tribe and tongue singing praises to their King. -- I remember that place and the sounds of their song. 

I remember their smiles and the way the children danced. The dust covered faces and ragged clothes. Nowhere near were there domes of gold. 

"Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God" Matthew 5:3

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fickle Hearts

I'm so glad God has used earthly relationship to explain His love for us. He uses all of the earthly examples, A father, a mother, a brother, a friend, a lover and an eternal bridegroom.

My husband and I are in our eighth year of marriage - I lift my glass, or tip my hat (whichever you prefer) to those who are decades ahead of us in your matrimonial journey. 

Trinity Church 2004
In our few short years, one of the more important lessons I have learned is you fall in love with the person you thought they were, but you grow to love (and commit to love) them for the person they really are. "I love you, not for who I thought you were, or for who I need you to be, but I love you for who you are."

Unless we go into marriage with this type of commitment then we may have the tendency to bail.

The same is true with our relationship with God. Often times we go into this relationship because of who we think He is. And when He fails to meet our expectations, we have a tendency to bail, rather than stay in the relationship and love Him for who he is.

In our brokenness, we form the objects of our love into who we need them to be. It's what we do with each other, and it is what we do with God, but He refuses to fit into the molds we've created for Him. If He did, He would be enabling our idolatrous natures. Ultimately what God desires to do is to heal our brokenness. He alone can heal the voids and wounds of our hearts. His love is greater than any earthly example: He loves with perfection. Until we can love Him for who He is, we love with the selfishness of a child. 

Whether in our earthly relationships, or with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves, the greatest reward is to allow love to become a selfless offering, so that we might know and be known. 

1 Corinthians 13:12 - "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Windows of our Heart

The Windows of our Heart

I love to imagine the scene from 2 Samuel 6 as it describes King David bringing the ark of the covenant - God's presence - into Jerusalem. They escorted the ark with shout of joy and praise, and David danced before the presence of the Lord.

Melk Abbey © TLW
In verse sixteen it reads, "Michal, the daughter of Saul looked out the window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before God; and she despised him in her heart." She despised his exuberant and expressive worship before the presence of Jehovah, the covenant keeping God. David danced before the One who had been faithful to keep his promises to a shepherd boy. He knew the One he danced for. But Michal was so far removed from God's presence that all she could do was criticize and despise.

The part of the chapter than stands out the most, is verse eighteen and twenty. In verse eighteen we read that David offered up a burnt offerings, and blessed the people; in verse twenty he went home to bless his household. Instead he was greeted by a critical wife, she attacked him with her words.

Her critical spirit caused her to miss the blessing; she remained barren for the rest of her days. 

My prayer is that I will never be so removed from God's presence that I cannot rejoice with those who rejoice. And may I never allow criticisms to deprive me of the blessings. Lord, defined my life with fruitfulness and not barrenness! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Vito has Died

Vito died this morning.

He’s my husband’s barber – he just cut my husbands hair two weeks ago. He’s old fashion in that he used scissors and not electric clippers… I’ve always imagined him being a bit like Edward Scissor Hands as he cuts:

He was an Italian. I bet you didn’t guess that … short in stature, dark hair, and a believer in Jesus Christ. But he wasn’t a church going believer – he dropped out of church long ago. Something about it left a bad taste in his mouth.

But his faith was real. He kept original artwork in his barbershop. You could see it through the window, just past the revolving red, white and blue barber post. The artist’s name is Gaetano – he didn’t know he could paint till he was put in prison.
Gaetano Milano ©

Long ago, Gaetano was one of Vito’s clients, and Vito always spoke to him about Jesus. But Gaetano wasn’t interested; he had other things on his mind. That is until he got put in prison for being the trigger guy in a Mafia murder.

It was while he was in solitary confinement that Gaetano shouted out to Vito’s God. In his desperation, he wanted to see what Jesus had to offer. After he was released from solitary, he discovered he could paint. He’s been prolific. Most of his paintings are centered around the theme of Christ and the Cross.

One month ago, Gaetano was released from prison after more than twenty years. Vito travelled south to celebrate the day with his friend.

Today Vito died. He was released from this prison of this world …

Those who remain will miss him – his family, his clients. But to be absent from this body, is to be present with the Lord. He has entered a place of rest, a place where there are no tears or pain.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Husband's Heart

Durnstein, Austria 2010 © 
My Husbands Heart

My husband had an echocardiogram this morning. Sound waves echoed through the chambers of his heart -- I wonder if it picked up the echoes of the praise that pours from his mouth. 

I imagine the tech may have heard tunes of Worthy is the Lamb, or Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing ...  

We could have saved everyone the time and money. You see, all is well within the chambers of this man's heart.

There may be a few physical aberrations in his physical heart - but with the heart that beats eternal -- all is well. 

 "Grow a wise heart you'll do yourself a favor; keep a clear headyou'll find a good life."


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Yellow Labs - God's Glory

I take a lot of pictures of my dog as she sleeps. I try in vain to capture her contentment with each snap. She can follow me into a room, and within seconds she will find the perfect spot and close her eyes. I've often accused her of faking it - "You can't be asleep ... no way." She is stoic, not even a flicker of the lids... Well, sometime.

Oswald Chamber's is quoted to have said. 'The Blue Jay honors God by just being a Blue Jay.'

My paraphrase is that the Yellow Labrador honors God by just being a Yellow Labrador.
Each day she effortlessly glorifies God by being exactly what He created her to be

My prayer is that I might learn to do the same: 

Delight myself in God in such a way that He will be delighted.