"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Kingdom of Heaven is Like ...

It happened again both Tuesday morning and Tuesday evening. After a seemingly long holiday season, the ladies gathered once again for Bible study and for fellowship. There were new faces, and there were old. But one thing never changes. It's what I've come to call "holy chatter." In all the busyness of greeting and handing out books and nametags, there's that moment when all I can do is just stop and listen. And it blesses me every single time. Women catching up with women and just plain loving on each other after a period of separation. As one sweet darling hugged my neck, she even said, "Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!"

But as much as I delight in it, I think God takes even greater pleasure in it. In fact, I bet it's nothing short of common occurrence in the realm of what we call heaven where so many have gone before us -- where there indeed dwells such a great cloud of witnesses. And so I've been thinking about that day when I see my loved ones again after this seemingly long separation. Of what will those first moments of holy chatter be like in the kingdom? Will there be need to tell them what life has been like since they've been gone? Will I be sharing with them the names of my children or maybe even grandchildren and describing their personalities? Will there be tears or laughter -- or both? Will they be catching me up on their activities of the last 50 or so years? (If that's the case, I have a feeling their stories will outweigh mine!) I don't know, but somehow I think that what I experience here on earth on that first day of women's Bible study is just a taste of the joy of the Kingdom to come.

Just an ordinary moment...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Shortcuts

The way my eyes flew open this morning at 4:01 a.m., one would have thought it was Christmas morning all over again. And the way I love and get excited about that particular day, it might as well have been, for today marks the beginning of ladies' Bible study for 2010 -- and it's like Christmas to me!

The sign up has been phenomenal! Ladies are eager for the Word. And today we begin Beth Moore's 10-week study of the apostle Paul, To Live is Christ. But just like I told the mother of one of my piano students recently, "If he doesn't practice through the week, he's not really going to benefit too much from the lessons," the same could be said for Bible study. Getting to know God is time-consuming. We live in a day where everything is instant. We figure we can give God 10 minutes of our morning in some daily-devotional reading and expect it to be life-changing. Or worse, we open our Bibles and then close it after a few paragraphs because we find it boring. Renowned worship leader Bob Kauflin puts it this way: "We want everything abridged, dumbed down, and in today's lingo, so we don't have to think too much or examine our lives too closely."

But not these ladies today. They're bringing their work boots and pick axes. And why not? Given our small and feeble minds compared to God's immensity and grandeur, how can we even begin to assume the path to knowing Him is easy. In fact, what we DO know about God will always be dwarfed by what we don't know.

There are no shortcuts. And it's not a quick fix. The pursuit is life long. And worth it.

Just an ordinary moment...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ministry Out of the Box

I received a phone call last week from my son-in-law's mother. She has just completed her training as a massage therapist, and while waiting on her license to arrive, she wanted to know if she could give the ladies in my morning Bible study massages to help keep up her skills. No doubt I was all over it. So I sent out a mass email to those who had signed up thus far offering this "day at the spa" -- or at least a free 1-hour massage. And one by one, for two days, women have been gracing my doorsteps donned in their warm-ups and sweats, and most with no makeup, to be pampered, indulged, and touched. And you know what? I've been the one blessed -- both by their presence and by their healing.

Sometimes ... ministry just plain surprises me.

Just an ordinary moment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Praying with the Dawn

The Psalmist cries, "O God, Thou art my God! Early will I seek Thee." And so while it's still dark, I pull my protesting legs out from under the warm sheets, slip my cold feet into my fuzzy slippers, and before heading out to my "Garden Enclosed," pour myself the first cup of morning coffee.

And as if the rising steam knows the way to my Father's throne, it hears my heart's cry and carries my prayers heavenward.

I'm at home here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


It happened again this week. So often when I'm teaching piano, I'll be talking to a student and the child will rest his or her hands on the keys, depressing them ever so lightly. As they do this, the damper is lifted off the strings inside the keyboard leaving them unprotected and exposed to outside stimuli. And in this case, that stimuli was the human voice. As the student and I talked, the unguarded strings began to respond to the vibrations in the strain of our voices, and as they did, they began to sound or play. One might even say "sing." The hum began ever so lightly and then grew stronger the longer the strings were left un-dampered. And so what I did was reach down and gently lift the child's hands off the keys and place them in their lap so the dampers would once again rest upon the strings, stopping all vibrations.

Is this not a picture of our own unguarded soul? We have this particular desire in us to "sing," if you will. We are created in such a way to respond to God's voice and activity in our life. But for some reason, we'll let ourselves become "un-dampered." Maybe it comes with a lapse in our quiet time or daily Bible reading. Or a season of prayerlessness. Maybe the company we keep is having a pull on us. Whatever it is, we are left open to stimuli surrounding us -- and, boy, is it ever around us. And so this outside "voice" begins to call. Maybe it has the ring of Satan himself, but more likely it's just the world and the temptive call it has on our life. Whatever the cause, that desire in us begins to vibrate or resonate, and because we are not under God's protective control, before you know it, we're singing with that thing.

The strings on that piano in my music room were made to vibrate and to vibrate powerfully and beautifully. But they were meant to sing in response to the striking of a hammer under the control of a skilled musician and not to the voice of an outsider.

Just an ordinary moment...