Whatever is Pure Archives
2010 I Lift My Eyes Web Ministries Newsletter Archives
<-- December 31, 2009
Be Thou My Vision by Andy Rogers
Download a totally FREE MP3 by Andy Rogers, an annointed worship leader and songwriter in Ireland. I hope you'll be blessed by Andy's incredible generosity in making this song available with no cost or obligation -- simply his gift to the body of Christ.
Why do we usurp God's right to judge?...It is for God alone to judge, to justify or to condemn. He knows the state of each one of us and our capacities, our deviations, and our gifts, our constitution, and our preparedness...according to the knowledge that He alone has...
Dorotheos of Gaza
"Such a nice family, obviously successful by the look of his suit and the cute little clothes their children are wearing." I sighed as I watched a young husband and wife escort their four children into church "And she's so put together.." With a wistful shake of my head, I continued my inner conversation. "Nice folk but obviously too good for me to have much of a chance of being friends with."
I was wearing faded jeans and a sweatshirt that was well worn. Being a home missionary in a large urban centre didn't allow me the luxury of new clothes but at least they were clean.
I kept my eye on this family and as time went on, I was impressed by their hearts of service and passion for bringing God's love to the poor in our community. "Great." I thought. "Not only do they look perfect, they are in a totally different league than me in a Christian living sense as well. Look how worn her bible is!"
As weeks progressed into months, my on-the-fly judgements of this family began to build a wall of self-intimidation that stopped me from approaching them. I had no idea that I had built that wall and was not yet aware of the judgements I had formed. Yet, if anyone had asked me my opinion of this couple, I would have sung their praises.
One Sunday, I arrived a few minutes late to church and church was packed. As my brother used to say, church was sold out. Our church never used ushers but this particular week, a helpful young man saw me enter with my cane in hand and escorted me to the only available seat - the outside seat on the 'perfect family's' pew. Swallowing my panic, I sat, then bent to shove my purse and cane under the pew.
My nose wrinkled as I caught scent of an all too familiar scent off of the husband's leather coat, a scent that caught me off guard. The coat smelled of tobacco smoke, a heavy scent that can only embed itself into the fabric of a garment worn by a long-time, habitual smoker. With that single whiff, the walls of presuming this family to be too perfect to approach tumbled down and I sat, shame-faced at my silliness.
Instantly, I felt the Lord's conviction and I repented of the grievous sin of presumption and renounced the wall I had built between myself and this family. Although I would never condone smoking, God used this brother's struggle with cigarettes to teach me a lesson. I had judged this family by their appearance and outer behaviour alone.
I have sat under wonderful teachings that taught me not to judge the poor and homeless and those who inhabit the outskirts of society as being beneath me' and therefore not worthy of my friendship. However, I have never heard a sermon about the dangers of presumption and judging the supposed successful and put-together people around us as being 'too good' for me to approach.
I am forever grateful for God's intervention in my life that evening. Over the years, this family have become my family in many ways. We have wept together, laughed together, shared many meals together and they have embraced me in their hearts and I have let them past my own walls into my heart. What blessings I would have missed if I had stayed in my sinful presumptuous ways.
As a side note, smoking is no longer a snare for this couple, which is a good thing. I'd miss out on a lot of their warm hugs on a cold day due to my allergy to tabacco.
© 2010 Katherine Walden
I can choose to fully engage in the life God has given me or I can sit on the sidelines as a passive observer.
I am avid fan of the Winter Olympics and am thrilled this year that once again the Olympics will be held in Canada. As part of the preparation for the games, the Olympic torch is being carried across the nation, regardless of weather or terrain. The torch arrives in my city tomorrow and no doubt there will be extensive media coverage of its progress through the streets and avenues of Edmonton. I could choose to watch via television, nice and cozy, in my recliner and cheer on the torch bearers in the solitary comfort of my apartment. Or, as the torch bearer route passes right outside my high-rise, I could look out my bedroom window for a birds-eye view. I could use my binoculars and get a closer view and still stay nice and cozy and protected or I could put on a warm coat, a pair of gloves and head downstairs, walk out the door and be part of the action.
I must confess, the introverted side of me would much rather watch from from a distance. I might actually have to talk to those standing beside me as we line the route in anticipation of the torch. I might have to ask for people to move so I can maneuver my walker so I can see better. I might have to witness a couple squabbling beside me. I might be approached by the aggressive panhandlers who have invaded my neighbourhood as of late. Yes, I might have to admit I belong to the human race!
As I thought over my choices, I was reminded of a statement my pastor made in a recent teaching. I must paraphrase as I didn't have my laptop with me to make notes. She said. "You can either be just a covert of Christ or you can be a disciple -- a follower of Christ." To be a disciple of Christ requires action. It requires a conscious, long-term commitment to remain fully engaged. It means spending time with him, learning to hear his voice and learning to be consistently obedient to his direction. It requires that you be an active participant in Christ's purposes and strategies here on the earth among his people. You can't be a lone disciple of Jesus at least, you can't be one very easily.
Tomorrow, I will make my way down to the street and join in. I choose not to be just a spectator from afar.
This year, I choose to be a follower of Jesus, actively participating with Him and walking in the midst of his people, although it would be much more comfortable to be a passive observer of his works.
As Keith Green sang so many years ago ...
Until next week,
© 2010 Katherine Walden
Recently, I was commiserating with a friend as we discussed current events in our lives. We are members of the same church and we both share a deep sense of gratitude for the rich teaching we receive every week. A couple of months ago, our pastor extended an invitation to us - a call to deepen our commitment to see Christ's reign in our neighbourhoods and communities. That Sunday, we both stood with most of our fellow church-goers, dedicating ourselves to the commission given us by our pastor. Both of us were mature enough in our walk to know that God would take us at our word.
Within a week of renewing my commitment to be a light in my neighourhood, I experienced a disconcerting encounter with a new neighbour in my apartment building. I won't go into details but I came away feeling shaken and vulnerable and a little unsafe in my own apartment. The inner battle was on and I have to admit that I am still struggling to walk past my fears and to continue to follow the Lord's marching orders.
My friend's experience was much more intense than my own and she confessed to feeling inadequate for the task at hand.
We both agreed that things were messy, uncertain and confusing. We have heard of the miraculous results in the neighbourhoods of other congregants who stood with us that Sunday morning. However, neither of us can stand up in front of our church with glowing testimonies of miraculous answers to prayer. At least, not yet.
We both know that in the midst of our stories. we cannot gauge our success by the changing circumstances around us. We know the dangers of comparing our stories with the stories being played out in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have placed our trust in the one who called us forward and we keep our eyes fixed on him. Because He is the Author of our lives, his plans and purposes will come to fruition. (Hebrews 12:2, Isaiah 55:11) He has the advantage of seeing our stories from the beginning - past the middle mire and chaos - through to completion of his word.
Perhaps, like me, you are in the midst of your own struggle to remain obedient and true to the calling God has placed upon your life. Perhaps you wonder how you can find a clear path out of the mess, no matter how you could find any victory from the chaos you find yourself in today. Trust God at his word and remember his promise to us.
Until next week,
© 2010 Katherine Walden
As of late, I've become increasingly aware of my desperate need to live in God's presence. Within that awareness lies the painful recognition of my own weakness and inability to enter into that presence without his help. I thirst; yet, like Jill in "The Silver Chair" by CS Lewis, I fear to draw near to the only true water that can quench my terrible thirst. But I know I must draw near as there is no other source but Him.
I remember the joyful confidence and the reckless abandonment from which I would fling myself - heart first, head second - into worship and intimacy with the Lord. It never occurred to me in my early years in Christ that he would not be there to catch me when I leapt into his arms. I remember dancing in the rain, soaked to the skin, slipping and sliding on a water soaked field with a hundred other Jesus adorers, not caring what others thought, not worrying about strained muscles and sprained ankles -- my eyes were only fixed on the One I could not see with my earthly eyes but who my heart instantly recognized as my beloved.
Ps 42: 4
God has proven himself ever faithful over the decades. I could fill a dozen journals with His answers to prayer and his provision in every area of my life. Yet, I long for more, I am not satisfied with his mere provision -- although I am grateful for it. I long for his presence more than I long for his provision. God calls me to praise his him, trusting me as my Savior and to remember his faithfulness no matter what circumstances lie before me.
Psalm 42: 5-6a
I am not satisfied with a surface relationship with Jesus. I don't want to be merely an admirer of his ways - I want to be intimately acquainted with him. That deep place within me is being wooed by His heart -- he desires not to merely quench my thirst with a cup of water, no - He desires to submerge me in his waterfall, saturating every cell of my being.
Even in this arid land, I find a song of worship on my lips as I fall asleep and his word says he sings over me. And yet -- I have dared to complain to him. Like the psalmist, I give into the lies of the enemy and allow myself to feel abandoned and left behind.
Ps 42 8-9a
Like the sons of Korah, I must admonish my soul and set my heart on the daily journey of putting my whole hope, my unflagging trust and my life in the care of Him who cares for me. I choose this day and all days to praise Him for He is good and his faithful love for me endures far past my own ability to endure.
Until next week,
© 2010 Katherine Walden
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