The crazy, transforming power of adoration

“This is the crazy, transforming power of adoration.  We use our words to praise God and in the process find ourselves getting healed of false perceptions of Him.”- Sara Hagerty

“He delivered me because He delighted in me.”- Psalm 18:19 (NKJV)

Today Sara Hagerty concludes her discussion of six thoughts to help us grow toward friendship with God (Chapter 8, Unseen).

5.  Adore God.  Through adoration, Sara notes, we “try on a language about God that described His love and His eye on the unnoticed.”   We do this as we look up at God with wonder and awe.  In addition, we need to give God the praise He deserves, even when we don’t feel like praising Him.  Ms. Hagerty continues:

“In adoration, we take a phrase or sentence of God’s Word, we see what those words say about who God is, and we speak them back to Him and to our own souls.  We pattern our words toward praise in the midst of whatever we are feeling.”

However, our emotions, left unfettered, easily become a barrier to adoration.  On the other hand, practicing adoration in the midst of our feelings lifts us over that barrier.  Thus, praise establishes a deeper connectedness with God.  And it waters our friendship.

6.  Recognize the truth about yourself in the light of who God is.  Sara contends we’d all rather be workers, earners, than lovers of God.  Because working feels easier, more within reach.  Therefore, the author adds, we all struggle to believe God’s delight.  To grow communion with God, we must dispel the belief that our Creator barely likes us or tolerates us.

In conclusion, Sara states:

“So much of the distance between God and us could be spanned if we’d let Him inform us about who He is and who we are in Him.  When we see God more clearly, we see ourselves more clearly.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses, hymns, or Christian songs help you adore God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “On the receiving end of judgment or mistreatment”

To neglect communion with God

“Some things may be neglected with but little loss to the spiritual life, but to neglect communion with God is to hurt ourselves where we cannot afford it.”- A. W. Tozer

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”- Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)

In John Eldredge’s foreword to Susie Larson’s book  Your Powerful Prayers, he compares giving up on prayer to a solder laying down his arms in the midst of a firefight.  Prayer, Mr. Eldredge adds, “is something you grow into, something you mature in and get better at over time.”  In addition, John adds that prayer’s far more like learning to drive than sneezing.

Thus, as Ms. Larson notes in her introduction, Jesus wants us to be comfortable with, as well as undone by His great love for us. As a result, God’s love and acceptance of us has everything to do with prayer.  Furthermore, Jesus invites us to:

  • know Him more intimately
  • walk with Him more profoundly
  • trust in His Word more confidently

Most importantly, Ms. Larson exhorts, as we get to know God’s love, our life spills with grace, insight, and power.  The author explains:

“If we want to be powerful in prayer, we must spend our lives learning to accept and embrace how fiercely God loves us.  We must continually stand in awe of the fact that Jesus defeated death and sin for us.  And then from there, live our whole lives in response to what Jesus has already accomplished for us.  This is what it means to stop striving and to know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).”

Today’s question: During your desert, land between time, what circumstances cause(d) you to neglect communion with God?  Please share.

Coming Monday: the new Short Meditation, ”

Tomorrow’s blog: “That place where joy and faith collide”

Full cruciformity

“Full cruciformity . . . to give someone your broken heart means breaking pride, breaking lies, breaking fear.”- Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp continues Chapter 18, the concluding chapter of The Broken Way, by noting the benefit of sitting in your burn and brokenness.  As you live into the givenness even of your brokenness, the crisis possesses the potential to bond you to Christ and other broken hearts.

Therefore, full cruciformity means embracing suffering and brokenness through the gift of presence.  Ann explains:

“Suffering is a call for presence . . . not only to the brokenness of the world, but to the brokenness in our own soul, and to risk trusting others with our wounds.”

For those of us with broken hearts, we need key people.  Ann describes these key people as people who:

  • break us open so we see how Christ never fails to hold our wounds
  • break us free from all crushing expectations of ourselves and others
  • tell us it’s safe to be real here and let the brokenness come

Furthermore, Ann describes how we become a key person.  This happens when we hand a key to break someone free. In the process we give each other our broken hearts.  Then, our brokenness heals us in the strangest way- we let that brokenness come.

In conclusion, Ann describes what it truly means to live given.  It’s more than giving your skills, resources, time, hands, and feet.  Living given means:

” . . . breaking down all the thickened walls and barriers around your heart with this hammer of humility, and trusting the expansiveness of the broken-wide-open spaces of grace and communion.”

Living given = giving the brokenhearted your brokenness + not being afraid of theirs.

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you attain full cruciformity in your life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The fellowship of the broken”

A willingness to be inconvenienced

“A willingness to be inconvenienced is the ultimate proof of love.”- Ann Voskamp

As Ann Voskamp continues Chapter 13 of The Broken Way, she discusses the phrase “side by side” in Hebrews 10:33.  The writer of Hebrews refers to those who stood side by side with those publically insulted and persecuted.  Ann notes that “side by side” translates the Greek koinonoi– “companions,” “partners.”

Therefore, as we stand side by side with others in their suffering, we participate- get into- their suffering.  We allow their suffering to make us grimy and tearstained.  In addition, Ann states, we “drink the draught of communion.”

Because Jesus’ cross absorbs all your pain, the cross allows you to hold pain.  Furthermore, as you break and give yourself for others, they in turn bear all the gifts and love you gave away.

However, the performance culture of our world consists of impressing people and creating one’s own parade of accomplishments.  Ms. Voskamp contrasts this with the cruciform way of Christ.  The author observes:

“And the cruciform way of Christ is about letting the love of God and the needs of people impress and form you into a cross. . . the Samaritan who sacrifices to help other wounded paraders and upholding the forgotten.”

In conclusion, Ann states, the performing way of the world leads to a dead end.  On the other hand, the cruciform way of Christ leads to love.  Therefore, the ultimate proof of love = a willingness to be inconvenienced.  Also, loving broken people at inconvenient times enables you to experience fuller inclusion in the life of Christ.

Today’s question: Who has stood side by side, or partnered, with you in your suffering?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Shards of our broken hearts”

Our daily liturgies

“Our loves are formed by our daily liturgies.”- Ann Voskamp

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.”- C. S. Lewis

In Chapter 8 (“Why Love is Worth Breaking Your Heart”) of The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp provides the sole way to rise to the beauty of love.  That way?  Rise and serve.  Therefore, Ann suggests, intentionally travel the road of the abundant life. First, you risk brokenness.  Second, you love the right things in the right ways.

However, Ann cautions, we must demonstrate conscious awareness of what we love.  The author explains:

You are whatever you love. . . . at your very essence, not what you think, but what you love.”

In other words, what we love most compels us.  As a result, you ultimately find your real self in giving.  Jesus said in Matthew 16:25, “Whoever loses their life for me will find it.”  Consequently, Ann lists what matters most in the act of loving:

  • we become more like the givenness of Love Himself
  • in loving, we change (bonus if other people change as well)
  • in sacrificing to love someone, we become more like Someone

Sometimes not risking anything means actually risking everything.  We must remember the reward of loving = the joy of loving itself (emphasis Ann’s).  Sadly, we often give away our lives to insignificant things.  Therefore, we fail to realize our subconscious love for those meaningless things.  In contrast, Ann notes, pouring out love makes your life success-full (emphasis author’s).

In conclusion, Ann notes, “love defies logic and keeps on loving when it makes no sense.”  That defines the essence of love.  Faith and love need practice in the “vulnerable communion of brokenness and givenness.”  Love or war, Ann states the answer remains the same: I surrender.  Hence, love compels us.  Giving away your heart heals your heart.  Furthermore, sacrificing ourselves guarantees we discover the depths of our best and truest selves.

Today’s question: Describe your daily liturgies.  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Leave your worries with God”

A cascade of grace

“And these acts of kindness, gifts of grace, they start a cascade of grace to fill a multitude of canyons in a hurting world.”- Ann Voskamp

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back — given back with bonus and blessing.  Giving, not getting, is the way.”- John 6:38 (MSG)

Ann Voskamp continues Chapter 5 of The Broken Way by noting the domino effect of Give It Forward Today.  Ann writes:

“Don’t think that every gift of grace, every act of kindness, isn’t a quake in a heart that moves another heart to give, that moves another heart to give, that grows into an avalanche of grace.”

Therefore, Ann reflects, perhaps there’s no such thing as a small act of giving.  Most noteworthy, givenness neither defines nor proves our value.  As Ms. Voskamp underscores, givenness “lets us feel the defining value of love.”  However, at times we exhibit misguided motives of givenness.  Yet, God guides us back to communion so we receive the benefits of love.

Setting our sights on changing the world may be a noble ambition.  But Ann suggests we do the small thing that makes just one person feel loved:

“Love gives, and huge acts to try to make someone happy don’t make anyone as hugely happy as simply doing small acts to make someone feel loved.”

In conclusion, Ann states that the feelings generated by abandoning self into givenness soon give way to abandoning yourself to God.  As this occurs, you find full communion.

Today’s question: During your desert, transformational time, how have you experienced a cascade of grace?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The smallest of beginnings”

The blessedness of possessing nothing

“The blessedness of possessing nothing can not be learned by rote as one would learn the facts of physical science.  They must be experienced before we can really know them.”- A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (1948)

Ann Voskamp continues Chapter 5 of The Broken Way by affirming that the very moment of our salvation in Christ made our union with Him an objective fact.  However, experiential joy occurs only when we encounter the moment of realization of our communion with Christ.

Through this communion, the ever-present Christ becomes fully present- and we begin to become the gift.  Ms. Voskamp explains:

“This is the beginning of becoming the gift.  Allow Christ in you to give away the gift of Himself right through your brokenness.  God gives God so we can be the givers.  The gift-ers.”

Furthermore, A. W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God) adds that to know God in growing intimacy, we must go the way of renunciation.  If we’re intentional in our pursuit of God, sooner of later God brings us to that test.

Therefore, our pursuit of God as He relentlessly pursues us creates a growing intimacy.  Our journey brings us to a dare- living cruciform.  In other words, Ann states, “the communion of living the shape of the cross.”

In conclusion, Ann urges us to forget about paying it forward.  Rather, giving it forward becomes our only option.  So, be the GIFT and Give It Forward Today.  Give Christ.  Perhaps the only abundant way forward = giving forward.

When bits of joy lodge in your brokenness, Ann notes, you feel a bit remade.

Today’s question: How have you matured in the blessedness of possessing nothing?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A cascade of grace”

Our union with Christ

“Ultimately, it comes down to this, that the real cause of our trouble is failure to realize our union with Christ.”- Martyn Lloyd Jones, Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cures, 1965

“But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace.”- Ephesians 2:13-14 (NIV)

Ann Voskamp concludes Chapter 3 of The Broken Way with the realization that none of the pieces of you find peace until you see, feel, and experience the reality of your union with Christ.  Put another way, only a oneness with Jesus heals your one broken heart.  In addition, Ann expands our understanding of peace:

“Peace isn’t a place — it’s a Person.  Peace isn’t a place to arrive at, but a Person to believe in.”

Therefore, Ann emphasizes, giving thanks precedes breaking and giving; doxology, then discipleship; eucharisteo, followed by koinonia.  Furthermore, Ms. Voskamp enlarges her view of koinonia Koinonia is:

  • much more than simply communion or fellowship
  • no less than full participation in Christ’s brokenness and givenness
  • a deeper union with Christ
  • this miraculous embrace capable of ending our abandonment and aloneness

Hence, Ann wonders if all the bad brokenness in the world begins with the act of forgetting.  When we forget that what God gives is good enough and that there’s always more than enough, we fail to live in intimate communion with Him.  Instead, we live in fear.

The author encourages, us in “remembering our union, our communion, our koinonia with Christ.  Remembering heals brokenness.”  When we allow a  way for broken pieces to re-member, in essence we let go into the more we almost can believe will come.

Today’s question: During your desert, transition time, how have you failed to realize your union with Christ?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The quantum physics of God”

Walk with God

“Our souls were made to walk with God.”- John Ortberg

John Ortberg begins Chapter 10 (“The Soul Needs to be with God”) of Soul Keeping by stating that the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, is permeated with the sense that the soul was designed to search for God.  Pastor Ortberg explains why the soul seeks God with its entire being:

“Because it is desperate to be whole, the soul is God-smitten and God-crazy and God-obsessed.  My mind may be obsessed with idols; my will may be enslaved to habits; my body may be consumed with appetites.  But my soul will never find rest until it rests in God.”

In Genesis 3:8 Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the Garden of Eden.  The Garden of Eden, John explains, is representative of God’s great desire for “being with” us.  When we walk with someone, the “being with” is what really matters, not the actual walk.

God would not be denied even when Adam and Eve sinned, deliberately hiding from God.  God asked where they were, not in relation to their physical location, but where Adam and Eve were in relation to Him.  The whole Biblical narrative, Pastor Ortberg observes, is about God going after and relentlessly pursuing us.  John concludes:

“For the soul to be well, it needs to be with God.”

Today’s question: What Scriptures have strengthened your walk with God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The Soul Experiment”

Souls centered on God

“My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you . . .”- Psalm 42:6

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love . . . for to you I entrust my life (lift up my soul).”- Psalm 143:8

John Ortberg concludes Chapter 8 of Soul Keeping by stating that in the process of reaching out to God, we are lifting our souls up to Him to be healed.  When our soul is centered in God, we know in faith that our heavenly Father will hold our pain, fear, and anxiety.  Pastor Ortberg defines the spiritual life:

“To place the soul each moment in the presence and care of God.”

John emphasizes that it is much harder than it seems to keep our souls centered on God.  He adds that a very simple way to guard our souls is to ask ourselves: “Will this situation block my soul’s connection to God?”  When we ask ourselves this question, we’ll find how little power external circumstances like a ministry downsizing or vocation loss or financial problems have over us.  We will come to the realization that external circumstances cannot keep us from being with God.  If anything, they will draw us closer to Him.

Unless God is part of the equation- that is, our thinking takes Him into account- our soul loses its connection to God.

Today’s question: What Bible verses have helped keep your soul centered on God during your desert, transitional time?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The soul needs a future”