Monday, April 21, 2014

Balcony People

We all need balcony people in our lives.

The kind of people who cheer us on, give us a fresh perspective, notice the specks and the planks (because they've already dealt with their own), and who aren't afraid to speak the truth in love.

"Balcony people are people who help me remember the big picture in my life. They're sitting on the balcony, after all, and have a much better view of my life than I do." ~ Lina Abujamra (Stripped: When God's Call Turns from 'Yes!' to 'Why Me?', p. 200)

Last week, I saw one of my balcony people.

Grandma Rosemary

Her 91-year-old wisdom born out of constant communion with the Lord has been my comfort on many occasions.

Her words have sometimes hurt--because they've been the tool of God to chisel.

And her unconditional love has convinced my heart over and over that God's love is real.

Once when my heart had been in turmoil and my tears were all she had to read, she called me with words I will never forget: "For the past three days, I have done little but pray for you."

Her balcony perspective prayed. And kept praying.

Her balcony love convinced me of God's love.

Her balcony presence in my life has given me the courage to step across the stage of my life and know I am never alone.

We all need balcony people in our lives.

The kind of people who could share the stage, but don't.

Those valuable people in our lives who watch with love and prayers and who are content to be a simple tool of God to mold and comfort and cheer and keep our focus upward.

"Balcony people don't just show up in your life. You've got to cultivate them over time. You've got to be intentional in finding them. You've got to pray for them. And once in a while, you've got to be a balcony person for them too!" ~ Lina Abujamra

Do you have some balcony people in your life?

Are you a balcony person for someone else?

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Invisible Hand

Thrown into a mud hut, stripped of their outer garments and holding their baby tight, Betty Stam and her husband John wondered what the next day would bring.

They had given their lives for China. Now, China was giving them up.

For them, heaven would be their next stop. The mud hut their last resting place on this earth.

Somehow Betty knew.

But what about her baby? At 3 months old, what would they do with the baby? How would she be cared for if she were spared?

Before she was dragged away with her husband to their martyrdom, Betty wrapped little Helen in warm blankets and snuggled her deep into a sleeping bag.

By faith in the invisible God, Betty hid her three-month-old baby deep in His capable, protective hands.

For 27 hours, Helen slept. For 27 hours, the invisible God cared for Helen, while He brought her parents Home.

Oprhaned but not alone, Helen was discovered by a Chinese pastor.

Because her mother hid her baby by faith.

". . . as seeing him who is invisble (Heb. 11:27)."

Betty reminds me of Moses' mother, Jochabed.

Imagine the faith it took to make a little basket, place her 3-month-old baby inside, and leave him on the Nile River, while all of Egypt was under an edict to kill every baby boy that was born.

Like Betty Stam, Moses' mother trusted an invisible hand to care for her three-month-old baby.

And He did.

Jochabed must have taught her son this trust.  In Hebrews 11, we're told Moses lived by faith ". . . as seeing him who is invisible (v.27)."

Many times throughout his life, Moses stepped into the unknown, trusting the invisible God.

Many times, Moses watched God's invisible hand work where he never could.

Our God doesn't have hands and eyes and a being we can physically bow down to, as centuries of people have always wanted.

Instead, by faith we see the work of His hands.

He convinces our hearts that He can see.

We have story after story of God working in the midst of His people.

By faith, we see Him working in our midst.

Day by day, an invisible hand is working, guiding, guarding, moving in such a way that only eyes of faith can see Him and trust Him.

Betty Stam.

These all lived by faith ". . . as seeing him who is invisible."

Can we entrust our lives and the lives of the ones we love into the hands of this invisible God?

We can.

Will we?

"The LORD, thy God, in the midst of thee is mighty." (Zeph. 3:17)

Click here to listen to the lesson about the fearless faith of Moses.

Hand image courtesy of Imanee/

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Hidden Place

Remember when Jesus said, “Consider the lilies, how they grow”?

He was teaching His disciples a lesson on trust and anxiety and leaving worrisome things in the hands of their Creator.

But how do lilies grow?

In a hidden place.

Right now, winter is passing into color, and a brighter world is springing up out of nowhere.

But where did this color and beauty come from?

From the dark. 

In the hidden place.

This beauty and color and life out of dormancy is springing up from the dark.

From a hidden place.

Oswald Chambers once said,
               “We imagine we are to be always above ground, shedding perfume and looking beautiful; or being continually cut and put into God’s show room to be admired, forgetting altogether that we cannot grow and be cut at the same time. We cannot be lilies unless we have spent time in the dark.”  (Still Higher for His Highest, p. 46)

We could never hope to be a source of joy and life and blessing until we’ve spent time in the dark.

Unless we’ve been in the hidden place.

I was there when these tulip bulbs were planted—small, round balls of hope buried deep in the dark for a brighter day. Buried deep in a hidden place, bearing up under the snow and cold of a different season, yet sharing life today.

Life buried deep in a hidden place will always shed joy and life and hope for others.

Because the hidden place of life in Christ is a place of peace and growth we could never experience any other way.

“Consider your hidden life with God,” Oswald Chambers also said.

That hidden life will bear up in the darkest seasons. That hidden place will always grow life that can’t be ignored.

Your hidden life in Him will bless others.

He will bless through you as you lie dormant in His embrace continually and contentedly.

Living for Him. Loving Him. Seeking His face. Resting in Him.

In the hidden place.

“Your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3)

[Congratulations to Sharon Robertson, a new subscriber -- winner of Craving Grace!! Thank you to everybody who entered and for your kind comments.]

Monday, March 31, 2014

Are You Craving Grace?

[Be sure to enter the Free Book Giveaway below: “Craving Grace” by Ruthie Delk.]

Jerry Bridges is one of our favorite guest speakers. He comes to our church often, and he even dedicated one of his books to us! We love Jerry Bridges and his teaching. 

And one thing we will always remember about Jerry Bridges is what he constantly tells us: “Preach the Gospel to yourself every day.”

But how? If it’s that important, how do we do it?

In the book Craving Grace, Ruthie Delk shows us how. She grew up with Jerry Bridges’ teaching. She loved his books and even attended a class he taught when her husband was in seminary.

She was raised in a missionary home. Knew the gospel. Knew it was important to everyday life.

But she still found herself asking these everyday questions:
        If I believed God’s love was unconditional, why did I feel loved on the days I ‘got it right’ and feel abandoned on the days I ‘got it wrong’?
        If I really believed God was in control, why was I so fearful?
        If I really believed He was with me, why did I feel so alone?
        If I really believed His grace saved and forgave me, why couldn’t I extend that same grace to others? (p. 11)

She often wondered why the gospel wasn’t making a difference in her everyday life.

In a diagram she calls “The Gospel Eight,” Ruthie Delk shows that we live in one of two camps:
We live like spiritual orphans.
Or we live like God’s child. 

We define ourselves by our past and our circumstances.
Or we find our identity in Christ.

We resist the gospel through self-reliance, blame, and propping ourselves up with false gods, like approval and good works.
Or we rest in the finished work of Christ and find restoration and freedom in the Cross.

Reading this book, you will discover which camp you fall in.

The place we find ourselves in is an indication of where we are in relation to the Gospel.

Like me, you may discover you’re craving grace. 

The Gospel is grace embodied in a message we need every day.

A message of identity—a message that identifies us with Christ who dealt with our sin forever, accomplished what we could never perform, loves us more than we comprehend, and offers grace to those who are craving it.

Preaching the Gospel to ourselves is running to Christ and the cross. Running there, not wallowing in the camp of mis-identity.

Find the pathway of the Gospel through Craving Grace.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation;
In quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

Enter your name below for a free copy of Craving Grace!!!
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Monday, March 24, 2014

How to Discover Who You Are

What is it that defines you? Gives you worth? Or puts a stamp on who you are?

Typically, we define each other by what we do.

If you write, you’re a writer.
If you run, you’re a runner.
If you nurse people, you’re a nurse.
If you mother, you’re a mom.

But what happens if those things change?

You grow old, and you no longer write.
You get sick, and you no longer run.
You retire, and you no longer practice nursing.
Your children grow, and you no longer mother.

Who are you then?

Thankfully, who you and I most deeply are has nothing to do with what we do, but with Who He is.

Ruthie Delk, author of Craving Grace (and stay tuned next week for a free book giveaway!) gives this helpful chart:

God is . . .
Therefore I am . . .
Under His control
The One Who Sees
Cared for

We can apply this to so many attributes of God.

Because He is Forgiver, we are forgiven.
Because He is Healer, we are being healed.
Because He is . . . on and on and on . . .

He delights to BE for us.

He is . . ., so that we can be . . .

Then, when we discover we are redeemed, safe, peaceful, loved, forgiven . . . and ONLY then . . . we can offer peace, forgiveness, love, and all the rest to others.

The best way to discover who you are, is to study Who God is—especially Who He is in relation to you.

These truths will never change—no matter how old, how sick, how different life becomes for you.

You are, based on who HE is for you.